+
More

On grief and gratitude: saying goodbye to President Obama.

The movers unloaded the furniture and personal items at the Obamas' new D.C. residence, and I find myself ill-prepared to say goodbye.

I've been shuffling through the past few weeks in a haze, clinging to the first family's final moments in the White House, lost in what can only be described as a kind of grief.

President Barack Obama cries as he speaks during his farewell address in Chicago. Photo by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images.


I don’t have to agree with my president. I don’t have to want to share a beer with him or want to be his friend. But win or lose, I want my president to be just that: my president.

I want him to think of me or, more accurately, people like me. People who don’t look like him, act like him, or necessarily agree with him. I want him to consider people who live a world away from him in class, geography, age, and upbringing. I want my president to listen to demonstrators and respond not with threats or aggression but with compassion and be open to criticism and feedback. I want my president to have some respect for this country and its citizens, whether they voted for him or not.

I grieve not for the man who’s leaving, but for the people who stand to lose when he departs.

His successor campaigned on and is setting into motion a wave of policy changes that threaten the health, safety, and well-being of millions of Americans.

I grieve for the people who may lose their access to their medical insurance and affordable health care, including from clinics like Planned Parenthood. I grieve for the people of color, Muslims, and Jews who fear for their safety in the wake of brutal hate crimes and the sexual assault survivors who may be reminded of their own attacks every single time this man takes the podium. I grieve for the refugees and immigrants who face uncertain futures, no matter how long they've called this country home. And I grieve for the LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families who fear their marriages and civil rights are on the chopping block.  

Whether they voted for him, against him, or not at all, millions of people — many of them already vulnerable — will be left to deal with the consequences of this president-elect's decisions. I think of all this, and I grieve.

Obama greets kids at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

I still remember listening to Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” no less than a dozen times the day after Obama was elected.

I held my head high on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, my old, crappy earbuds falling out and lovingly replaced with each confident step.

Two months later, I cheered, hollered, and shed a small frozen tear at his chilly inauguration. Nothing could dim my shine. My president was black.

Obama tours Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

But it was more than that.

My president believed in education. He read books. Lots of them. He trusted good science. He encouraged children (and grown-ups) to invent, create, code, and think their way to a better world.

Obama sits with a Lego statue during preparations for the South by South Lawn event at the White House.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Medium.

My president was put together. He was mature and cool under pressure. He carried himself with the gravitas, passion, and self-deprecating sense of humor his position demanded, even when it would've been easier to resort to vicious attacks.

Obama in the Rose Garden. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

My president was accessible. Maybe not, "here's my cell phone number" accessible, but he opened the doors of the White House to welcome diverse performers, experts, civilians, nonprofit leaders, children, and more from across the nation and around the world, even starting his own Big Block of Cheese Day. He made the White House "our" house again.

Obama  talks with Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the White House Science Fair in 2015. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy/Flickr.

My president was kind. He smiled around kids. He paid attention to people from all walks of life. He doted on his wife. His daughters seemed to adore him. He was well respected, affable, and compassionate.

My president made me proud. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Alabama. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson/Flickr.

President Obama wasn’t perfect. Far from it.

He approached issues at home and abroad in ways I didn’t always agree with, and without the sense of urgency some situations required. From his use of drone strikes to the delays and silence at Standing Rock and multiple moments and missteps in between. I often wonder how much more he could have accomplished, how much further we’d be today if he’d acted with the progressive courage we saw on the campaign trail in 2008.

Obama takes a call in the Oval Office. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

Still, I will remember his presidency fondly. On Inauguration Day, I will grieve. Then, I will get back to work.

That former grad student blasting old Kanye still remembers how good it felt to have hope. How strong and powerful I felt when I spoke up and knew my voice was heard. We all deserve to feel that, and feel respected by our elected leaders, no matter who is in the White House.

A lot of things change with a new administration, but doing what's right and treating people with respect should not.

The president's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

All illustrations are provided by Soosh and used with permission.

I have plenty of space.

This article originally appeared on 04.09.16


It's hard to truly describe the amazing bond between dads and their daughters.

Being a dad is an amazing job no matter the gender of the tiny humans we're raising. But there's something unique about the bond between fathers and daughters.

Most dads know what it's like to struggle with braiding hair, but we also know that bonding time provides immense value to our daughters. In fact, studies have shown that women with actively involved fathers are more confident and more successful in school and business.

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

This blind chef wore a body cam to show how she prepares dazzling dishes.

How do blind people cook? This "Masterchef" winner leans into her senses.

Image pulled from YouTube video.

Christine Ha competes on "Masterchef."

This article originally appeared on 05.26.17


There is one question chef Christine Ha fields more than any other.

But it's got nothing to do with being a "Masterchef" champion, New York Times bestselling author, and acclaimed TV host and cooking instructor.

The question: "How do you cook while blind?"

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Two couples move in together with their kids to create one big, loving 'polyfamory'

They are using their unique family arrangement to help people better understand polyamory.

The Hartless and Rodgers families post together


Polyamory, a lifestyle where people have multiple romantic or sexual partners, is more prevalent in America than most people think. According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, one in nine Americans have been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six say they would like to try one.

However popular the idea is, polyamory is misunderstood by a large swath of the public and is often seen as deviant. However, those who practice it view polyamory as a healthy lifestyle with several benefits.

Taya Hartless, 28, and Alysia Rogers, 34, along with their husbands Sean, 46, and Tyler, 35, are in a polyamorous relationship and have no problem sharing their lifestyle with the public on social media. Even though they risk stigmatization for being open about their non-traditional relationships, they are sharing it with the world to make it a safer place for “poly” folks like themselves.

Keep ReadingShow less

Gordon Ramsay at play... work.

This article originally appeared on 04.22.15


Gordon Ramsay is not exactly known for being nice.

Or patient.

Or nurturing.

On his competition show "Hell's Kitchen," he belittles cooks who can't keep up. If people come to him with their problems, he berates them. If someone is struggling to get something right in the kitchen, he curses them out.

Keep ReadingShow less

This article originally appeared on 01.27.20


From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

What I realized about feminism after my male friend was disgusted by tampons at a party.

"After all these years, my friend has probably forgotten, but I never have."

Photo by Josefin on Unsplash

It’s okay men. You don’t have to be afraid.

This article originally appeared on 08.12.16


Years ago, a friend went to a party, and something bothered him enough to rant to me about it later.

And it bothered me that he was so incensed about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. It seemed so petty for him to be upset, and even more so for me to be annoyed with him.

Recently, something reminded me of that scenario, and it made more sense. I'll explain.

Keep ReadingShow less