Stanley and Madelyn Dunham with their grandson.
Imagine if your writing a novel about a young man whose parents separated when he was very young, leaving him under the care of his grandparents. Although these grandparents are very different from the boy they raise him with love. Over time, the boy rises in the world, become a distinguished political figure. As he hits middle age, his closest guardians die one by one, leaving him only with a grandmother. And then, two days before he’s about the be elected President of the United States, his grandmother dies.
Stanley and Madelyn Dunham.
Other bloggers have picked it up but I want to join in the chorus and say that Ta-Nehisi Coates’s post about Obama’s maternal grandparents is very thoughtful and beautifully written. Coates himself is one of the best bloggers around, partially because of his intellectual curioisity. He doesn’t stop at his own ideas but is constantly trying to push himself to see the world anew.
Likewise, I was looking at this picture of Obama’s grandparents and thinking how much he looks like his grandfather. And suddenly, for whatever reason, I was struck by the fact that they had made the decision to love their daughter, no matter what, and love their grandson, no matter what. I’d bet money that they never even thought of themselves as courageous, that they didn’t give much thought to the broader struggles in the the world at the time. They were just doing what right, honorable people do. But the fact is that, in the 60s, you could be disowned for falling in love with a black woman or black man. There is a reason why we have a long history of publicly biracial black people, but not so much of publicly biracial white people.