March 23, 2021 2:10:27 pm
Former US President Barack Obama has written a long, heartfelt note on Instagram, sharing a never-seen-before picture of his father, Barack Obama Sr, and mentioning how his father’s absence influenced his childhood and his life.
“I didn’t really know my father — he left my mother and me when I was two years old, and only traveled from Kenya to visit us once, when I was ten,” he began the post, adding that was the first and last he ever saw of him.
“After that, I heard from him only through the occasional letter, written on thin blue airmail paper that was preprinted to fold and address without an envelope.”
His short time with his father, however, “had a profound impact” on his life. “My father gave me my first basketball and introduced me to jazz. But for the most part, the visit left me with more questions than it answered, and I knew I would have to figure out how to be a man on my own,” the former president wrote in the caption.
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In a 2008 campaign speech in Philadelphia, Obama had said, “I am the son of a Black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas,” explaining his bi-racial and unconventional childhood. Back then, his presidential campaign was much discussed in the US and around the world, for he was the first Black person to have entered the Oval Office.
In his recent post, he touched upon the subject of masculinity, addressing it from his own personal experience, and what it means ‘to be a man’.
“In our latest conversation on [podcast] Renegades: Born in the USA, Bruce [Springsteen] and I explore the topic of masculinity and the influence that our fathers — both flawed role models — had on our lives. We also talk about the message American culture sends to boys about what it means to be a man—a message that too often emphasizes physical toughness over sensitivity; the need to dominate over the ability to love and care for others,” he wrote.
Previously, Obama — who is himself devoted to his daughters — had written on his mother Ann Dunham, who had met his father at the University of Hawaii. “My mother, Ann Dunham, was strong, smart, and marched to her own beat. For her, the world offered endless opportunities for moral instruction. My sister Maya and I got early lessons about the struggle for civil rights, the impact of poverty on people around the world, and the importance of respecting other cultures and considering other points of view.”
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“My mother believed that power came not from putting people down but rather through lifting them up.”
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