President Barack Obama is often criticized, rightfully or not is subjective, for his failure to address issues that specifically plague the Black community. From astronomical unemployment rates and gun control, to the War on Drugs (code for War on Black and Brown People), he has taken hits from many quarters for what is perceived as a disregard for the voting bloc that paid his security deposit for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But if one looks closely, one will see the president leaning forward for little Jacob Philadelphia to touch his hair, tentatively comparing it to his; they will see him standing in the Rose Garden and saying that if had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin; and they will see him meeting with young students at Daughter of Zion Jr. Academy in Delray Beach, Fla., during a campaign stop (pictured).
While photo-ops are not an accurate barometer of concern, the politics surrounding the occasion pale in comparison to what that moment meant to those school children. There are no tests that can measure that. No campaign speech or media poll that can quantify the impact of the President of the United States looking just like the Fathers, uncles, and brothers of those children.
No, it’s not policy-shifting, but it is potentially life-altering and community building.
I think it serves us all well to look beyond the politics for one moment and see the wonder in the eyes of our future leaders. They don’t care about the Beltway, but they will remember that snapshot as the one that sparked something powerful within them — purpose, hope, possibility.
The reward for politicizing such a transcendent moment: $0.00. The cost of influencing a generation to see more, be more than they ever imagined.