Listening to Scott’s story of Barack Obama’s mother and having read a little of it, I am reminded a tiny bit of my own mother. As against Obama’s childhood in the 60s, mine was in the 40s, marked by war. Shortly after my father’s return from war, my mother divorced him over his irresponsible ways with money even as he remained a fixture in my mother’s family until the three of us moved out West.
For me and my mother, being in a single parent family had overtones of rebelliousness in it. School personnel were shocked when I explained the discrepancy in my parents’ addresses by the single word “divorce”. While I may not have thought much about it, I did understand what it was to be unlike others. Always being the shortest boy in class did not affect me but being the only child of a single mom no doubt did.
Moreover, I was an anthropology major in the very early 60s and met a lot of people similar to Obama’s mother. She was clearly a very adventurous and daring person, paving the way for many other women. In addition, she married interracially, something that I did 1964, 3 years after she did. No one not alive in the U.S. at that time can begin to understand the opprobrium that greeted such an action. It may have been mitigated in Hawaii but she still had to face family and friends.
Notwithstanding those similarities, it is the image of my own mother that comes to mind when I read of Obama’s mother’s attempts to raise her children. As we watch the convolutions of this country over the residency of a Black family in the White House, we want to look to the source of strength both Barack and Michelle bring to this awesome task. In Barack’s case, it was clearly his mother.
Happy Mother’s Day.