The New Us

Obama believed in us. Then we believed in ourselves.


Because we want our children to live in peace, and if not in peace, then at least with hope. We began to fight in earnest.

Now Obama officially inherits our doubts and fears, our giddy rush to change; he carries all of us with him into the White House.

If the tears I cried after learning of his grandmother’s death are any indication, I suspect the new American dream will be grounded in the sanctity of family. Obama speaks of the responsibility of fathers to show up, and of parents to turn off the television. He calls his beautiful wife, Michelle, the love of his life, the rock of their family. Because he was devastated by his father’s abandonment and saved by the devotion of his mother and grandmother, I suspect his fierce devotion to family will rub off on us. Not as part of a 1950s fantasy cooked up by advertisers to sell cars and washing machines, but as a real engine of holistic success.

As this all plays out, I suspect that we may come to talk of race as a set of ideas, nothing more and nothing less. We will say the human experience is bigger than those ideas, so big it cannot be contained with words. This, we will say to our children, is why we have something in common with everyone.

I suspect that as we continue to work in earnest, we will teach our children to do more with less and to understand the finite nature of the world’s resources.

We will teach them that extraordinary leadership, supported by an extraordinary base, can change the world.

We will tell them to believe in miracles. And, in turn, they will believe in themselves.

America is at the end of one story and the beginning of another. We are fortunate that Barack Obama is a writer. We will need his intuitive understanding of narrative to bring us to the other side of the current crisis. We will need him to teach us how to turn tragedy into insight and how to turn the decline of a superpower into an educational epic of redemption.

We picked the right man. Not simply because he’s qualified and soulful, committed and brilliant. But because he knows how to create a phenomenal whole out of a thousand little pieces. It’s the story of his life. Now it is the story of ours.

Rebecca Walker has a blog on The Root, Seeds.