Barack Like Me – part 1, “The Inception”
Ever since Barack Obama became President of the United States of America, opinions about and feelings towards him have been mixed and passionate (respectively). Well into his first term as President, the hope many of us had believed in has come and gone, not unlike an unloved child looking forward to the Hollywood magic of Christmas morning, only to awaken to the bitter, cold air burning his nose while feelings of disappointment welcome chills of loneliness in his chest. What shapes people’s opinions of this president, and why are people so passionate? What led so many of them to disappointment while so many others continue to rejoice?
This led me to recall the accounts of John Howard Griffin in “Black Like Me”. At the cost of his health, he exposed the ugliness of racism in the Deep South fifty years ago in his book which was reprinted over and over again. This lead me to the conclusion: How else but by impersonating Barack Obama while traveling the country could I truly examine the public’s opinions of the man.
As I prepared for my journey, I realized I, too, was about to enter “a life that appeared suddenly mysterious and frightening.” Though I am the foremost scholar on Barack Obama and his rise to the Presidency, I realized I knew little about the relationships he shared with the common folk who voted him into office. What follows are my experiences during this grand undertaking: the life of the President of the United States from a lowly middle class citizen’s perspective.