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HOPE. VOTE.

posted on: August 18, 2016

Eight years ago we huddled in my brother's room in my mother's brownstone in Bedford Stuyvesant. With backs pressed against the bed, and butts firmly planted on the hard wood floor, my mother, in the middle of us all, wrapped her long arms around four out of her five grown children. We bit our nails while we waited to see if Barack Obama would be president. We'd worked up to this point. Volunteering, distributing fliers—these were everyday activities for all the black folk I knew. I’d spent my adolescence tragically, watching the rise of anti-muslim rhetoric and fear. It became fodder for the mass media. Wars began. None of them ended. But now, with this possibility, this work, our worlds seemed brighter, and HOPE enveloped us all. It was my first time voting--what an experience.

Even when President Obama's two terms were sprinkled with ridicule and "never enoughs”; and when his hands were tied by congress; still even the littlest steps felt closer to something worthwhile: HOPE. If for nothing less than that a black man was President. The world couldn't be full of so much hate; look at our President! Opportunities were possible; look at our President! Hope mattered; look at our President! 

....
"I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world. And during our time in the White House, we’ve had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women, a journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington.

When they set off for their first day at their new school, I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns.

And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, what have we done?

See, because at that moment I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.

When they set off for their first day at their new school, I will never forget that winter morning as I watched our girls, just 7 and 10 years old, pile into those black SUVs with all those big men with guns.

And I saw their little faces pressed up against the window, and the only thing I could think was, what have we done?

See, because at that moment I realized that our time in the White House would form the foundation for who they would become and how well we managed this experience could truly make or break them. That is what Barack and I think about every day as we try to guide and protect our girls through the challenges of this unusual life in the spotlight, how we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith.How we insist that the hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.

With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us. We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and first lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but the children across this country, kids who tell us I saw you on TV, I wrote a report on you for school.

Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope and he wondered, is my hair like yours?

And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls that is what we’re deciding, not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives."
....

And so, when a practically unknown man, who had been fighting for hope and equality all of his years arrived on the scene, I stood beside him. As he, before I was even born, stood behind everything I was and am. His name was Bernie Sanders. I marched with my two children, one upon my husband's shoulders and one in the stroller, amongst thousands of others shouting his name and our shared ideals. I rallied and raised money for him. I stood in my friend's shop getting teary-eyed about HOPE. About how tangible it was in that moment. This black woman and mother of two was one of the many referenced "Bernie bros”. I believed--and still believe--in the revolution, because we cannot give up HOPE for a better future for our children. 

Bernie's chapter is now closed; but it is time (long overdue actually) that those of us who stood beside him, stand beside her. I'm with her. I'm with her because not standing for anything or anyone feels spineless. I'm with her because when I watched her speak at the Democratic National Convetion, with my five-year-old, I thought about opportunity again. I thought about HOPE again. I thought about a country with an overwhelming sense of walls already built, separating races, classes, and cultures, and how it made me sick. I thought about how I had no time to continue sideline smacking, I'd better get to working on that revolution--with her. I thought about holding her accountable for things in the past and moving forward with changes in the future. I thought about how I have to have a say in who my children look to as a role model for the next four to eight years. I thought about how that model will be her. So I’m with her.



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