I was six-years-old when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.
I remember the night the votes were counted, struggling to stay awake and marking each state he won with a blue crayon in my notebook.
At some point sleep overtook my little body, and I woke up the next morning magically back in my bed. I stumbled down the stairs to my parents room, pushing open their heavy door with my little hands.
“He won” my mom whispered in her gentle morning voice, with tired eyes still shining bright.
I jumped up and down at the foot of the bed, cheering at the top of my lungs without regard for my other siblings still fast asleep in their rooms.
While I didn’t fully understand what a president was or did, I knew it was important. Even more than that, I knew Obama’s being Black was important. I knew it connected us to him in a deeper way. His winning felt collective, as if the White House belonged to all of us now.
A Black family occupied the white house, serving as a reflection of my own, of my people. It’s a powerful feeling, one that lasted throughout my entire childhood as Obama went on two win another term.
Then, at the start of my freshman year of high school, you were elected, and fear seeped in.
For my Latinx friends whose brothers and sisters and parents were immigrants, many undocumented.
For the LGBTQ+ community whose human rights were only narrowly protected by the law and could easily be stripped away.
For my father, an outspoken Black activist I knew would not back down from reporting the gross injustices the Trump administration would inevitably carry out.
While I knew the United States was far from a perfect place, for my entire life, I could turn to the president as a reminder that I had a place here. That this country was just as much mine as anyone else's.
With your election, that comfort was replaced by the cold truth this country did not want me. You and your administration made it clear with every bigoted policy passed, every insane and infactual press conference, every racist tweet, that your perfect America was one in which I was not apart of.
Your great American dream was one tainted with white supremacy.
I was 18-years-old when Joe Biden was elected president of the United States.
I barely slept for weeks waiting for the results to be finalized. The day all 50 states certified the election results, I walked to my parents room, and pushed open their door. It didn’t feel as heavy. Their bed didn’t seem as big. My mothers eyes shined a little less bright, but shined nonetheless.
“He won” she said in a voice holding a different type of tired, one sleep cannot cure.
I didn’t cheer, but for the first time in a long time, I breathed a sigh of relief.
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