Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dear President Obama....

Last night, as we were watching the results come in from each state, Joe, Adrienne and I were imagining what today would be like if each candidate won.  Considering 94% of my students are African-American and almost all of them are considered "low-income," the vast majority of them were big Obama fans. Regardless of who won or lost, we predicted a wild day ahead of us. 

I couldn't stay up and watch the results, but I set an alarm for 2am just so I could check and see.  I was elated to see the CNN update that popped up on my phone announcing the good news.  When I headed to school, I was ready for anything. The kids were super excited and came running into class announcing to everyone and anyone that he had won.  One student just shook his entire body and yelled "FOOOOOOOOD STAMPSSSSSS" for everyone to hear.  It was hilarious.  In all of our classes, we watched President Obama's acceptance speech. I'm not going to lie, the first time I watched it, I teared up when he spoke of Sasha, Malia and Michelle, but so did some of my students. The discussion that followed the speech was almost just as inspiring and motivating.  It was so cool to see the students so passionate and interested in something. They were asking all sorts of questions about the electoral college and how the election process worked.  It made me hopeful for the next election, when these students will exercise their right to vote for the first time. 

As I was watching the speech for the fourth time during 4th block, I was thinking about the next four years. Here's what I came up with....

Dear President Obama,

Congratulations! I'm so excited that you're serving another four years as my president and the president of our country.  I have supported you over the past four years and have been proud of what you have done for our country. As I watched your speech today, the sense of hope and patriotism that I felt four years ago was rekindled.  I hope that you remember what you promised while you were campaigning when you take office.   Your promises resonated with me.  There were so many aspects of my life that I could see being impacted by what you are setting out to do. 

I work in an inner city school where 94% of my students are African American and almost all of them are considered low income.  Their families depend on food stamps and don't receive health care through their job.  They'll need as many scholarships and financial aid as they can get if and when they decide to go to college.  This being said, these students are some of the most inspiring, intelligent and toughest people I've ever met.  They deserve the same opportunities I had growing up in a white middle class neighborhood.  I hope your promises about education, health care and welfare become more than just promises and become reality. 

I'm also a woman.  I believe I deserve the same pay as a male doing the same work as I am. I believe that I should have the right to choose.  I don't believe that someone else should be making decisions about my body.  I hope that you keep women like your wife and your daughters in mind as you influence decisions about women.

You should also know that there someone I care about deeply who is serving our country.  He left for a six month deployment on a submarine the day before you were re-elected.  I hope that, when you are making decisions about when and where to send troops, you think of them as people and not just as troops.  I hope you not only consider the impact they'll have overseas, but also the impact having them overseas has on their families and friends in the United States. I am so proud of our troops for what they are doing and can't wait for each of them to return home safely.

Last, I hope that you continue to support gay rights.  I have two uncles who are lucky enough to have found each other.  The fact that they can't marry in some states baffles me.  I care about them so much and believe they deserve the same rights as my married parents. I feel like it's unfair to deny them benefits based on their gender.  It's the same as denying someone benefits based on the color of their skin.  I have faith that you will continue creating opportunities for people like my uncles.

Thank you for your dedication and service to our country.  I am so proud to be an American and to have you as my president. I know that the next four years will be challenging for you and your administration, but I believe in you and support you whole heartedly. Congratulations again on a successful campaign.