A great bit of human drama unfolded in the White House last week and it was a simple and stunning moment that proved the humanity of our current president and the unfettered charm and inquisitiveness of an eager mind. Barack Obama allowed a young boy to touch his hair.
That photograph is one of the most honest and touching moments I’ve seen from the Oval Office, and here’s why:
As the first Black President of the United States, Barack Obama has the great burden of history on his side and weighing him down. Young Black children in America have unique Racial features that don’t always fit in with the majority White Power — and one of the most ubiquitous, and culturally significant indicators, is their hair.
When the most powerful man in America looks like you and even has the same hair as you — there is a moment of wonder that can only be confirmed by a tactile reality. The touch becomes the fact; within the fingers, the verification of the dream: A Black Man Just Like Me — With Hair Just Like Mine — is the President of the United States. What a magnificent moment of fact meeting surprise.
Barack Obama understands the fascination and the meme, and that’s why he lowered his head so a young boy could confirm he wasn’t sleepwalking. He was really with Obama and the proof was held in the trembling hand.
How many presidents can you imagine making themselves subservient — if only for a moment — to a child? Would Mitt Romney lower himself to a child? Rick Santorum? Ron Paul?
Barack Obama gets it. He comprehends the social context of his presidency and the great promise he must carry forward every single day for every man, woman and child who dares to stand with him — and the great man isn’t above giving himself up to the curiosity of a child to help confirm the dream is real and completely alive.