Dreams From My Father

i’ve been reading this book and it has just been the most amazing experience. at face value this is a thoughtful, well-written, very smart book that i think would impress anyone who enjoys a good read. it is insightful, a commentary on his own life and on american society, and on kenyan society as well.

on a slightly deeper level, it’s amazing to read it knowing that this is our president! it’s very candid, open, opinionated. a rare glimpse into the personal thoughts of a world leader before he knew what would become of him.

for me personally though, this is the first time i’ve ever read anything that so closely mirrored my own experience. from as early as i can remember i have felt like an outsider, different from everyone else around me. my dad is from nigeria, he wasn’t around for most of my life. i didn’t meet him face-to-face until i was 29 years old and traveled to see him there. my white scandanavian mother and her family raised me here in minnesota in the late 70s into the 80s. diversity has come here through refugee and immigrant populations, as well as the increasing number of multi-racial families that have become a part of our midwestern landscape. but it wasn’t like this when i was growing up, and i was keenly aware. i’ve carried that feeling with me to this day, though circumstances have changed.

over the years i have met others in similar circumstances… black/white biracial of course… every once in a while there would be someone with an african parent… a certain kinship i’ve always felt with trans-racial adoptees… kids with an international parent. i’ve certainly not been completely alone. but my experience, i feel, is pretty unique. for a long time it was very lonely, and shame-based when, growing up, most americans didn’t know anything about africa but abbreviated history lessons in school national geographic movies, mocking what they don’t understand. i don’t know that i’ll ever be completely at peace with my place in the world, but with a lot of continued self-reflection, study, and a certain 2 week trip, i’ve come a long way.

i have been amazed to read this book! here is a man with an absent african father, raised by his white family, thinking through race in a complex way, who goes into community organizing, then goes to his father’s country as an adult to do some exploring and make some peace. amazing! i have found a few little intricate details that have made my hair stand on end because it’s such an odd thing to read in a book, parts of my life that i never thought would be in a book. one such part is something i ended on last night… barack in kenya reading through old family letters. being halfway across the world reading history, coming to terms with the beautiful parts, the ugly pieces, the realities you have to accept.

it’s an obvious treat for me, being a person who has such a similar experience. me, the girl who was never like other people! but aside from my personal connection, this is a fantastic book and i recommend it to everyone. i only have a few pages left and i’m honestly a little sad to be finishing it. i’m really proud to hear his story told and i still get goosebumps once in a while knowing that a man with this story became our president.


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