Pin It
Monday, January 28th, 2013

The Election of President Obama and Whether My Asian American Kids Could Really Be President

By
Can my Asian American Kids be President?/ © Shuttertsock

My parents always emphasized that although I was ethnically Chinese, my citizenship was American because I was born in America, “You can even be president someday—unlike us—because you are a natural-born citizen.”

 

In school, we learned the three requirements to become president of the United States were to be a natural-born citizen, at least thirty-five years old, and have resided in the United States for the past fourteen years. Although thirty-five seemed sooooo old, my friends Gregory, Tony, and I—dreamers and idealists—began to make plans for the 2000 presidential elections before we even graduated from high school.

 

My oldest daughter M was in kindergarten at the University of Michigan Children’s Center during the 2000 elections. She learned the same three requirements to become president of the United States. She read that Al Gore liked cats and George W. Bush liked dogs. The school held an election, voting booths and all, in which Independent candidate Bernie the Bear came in a very close second. They held a recount to be sure. Then everyone dressed up in fancy ballgowns to drink sparkling cider and dance at the Inaugural Ball.

 

Another daughter was in kindergarten during the 2004 elections.

 

However, by the time my son, Little Brother, began kindergarten in 2008 and came home to excitedly tell me the three requirements to become president of the United States and that he was going to become president when he turned thirty-five (and take me to live at the White House with him, sweet boy), I was feeling a little less enthusiastic, a little more cynical.

 

After working in ethnic new media for 10 years and watching American sentiment about immigrants and minorities deteriorate, especially after 9/11, I was not so sure if it really was true that my multiracial Asian American child could become president someday. I cringed to think how naive we had been to think that we—Gregory was multiracial Japanese/Spanish American, Tony was African American, I was Chinese American and a girl—could have seriously thought that any of us could be elected president of the United States. Sure, the Constitution said we could, but…

 

The Sunday before the election, I forgot about it and remarked to a friend a little too loudly at Sweetwaters Cafe, “Oh, is there an election coming up?” About half the cafe glared at me. “Hey, I already voted absentee!”

 

I realized that I although I did the minimum—I voted, I helped a friend get an absentee ballot, I wrote about voter registration and got out the vote, I hosted one candidates forum, I might have put up a lawn sign—I had not let myself become invested in Obama.

 

Although I told my children that candidate Obama showed that they could do anything—he was multiracial, a person of color, had Asian family, and loved shave ice in Hawaii, all like them—privately, I did not want to get my hopes up. I did not want to get excited about Obama. I did not really believe it was possible. I did not want to be disappointed.

 

I went to sleep on election night at the usual time, forgetting to check election results. I did not even know Obama had won until morning.

 

It was not until after he was safely inaugurated that I slowly began to let myself believe.

 

At the University of Michigan Children’s Center’s 2008 Inaugural Ball, Little Brother’s good friend Atea admired his coat and tie, “You look like a president!” Earlier that morning, he had remarked that he looked like “a perfesser” (only in Ann Arbor), but finally, I could agree, that yes, he did look like a president and smiled as he and Atea began making their presidential plans for 2038.

© 2013, Frances Kai-Hwa Wang. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Is Raising Bilingual Children Worth the Costs?

Fancy schools, international vacations, foreign language books, DVDs and tutors add up fast

6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan

Our top picks for Muslim and non-Muslim kids alike

Arranged Marriage 101

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

Don’t Touch My Child! Lessons from Asia

Has the West taken fear too far?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and Hawaii. She is editor of www.IMDiversity.com Asian American Village, a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog, Chicago is the World, JACL's Pacific Citizen, InCultureParent and Multicultural Familia. She is on the Advisory Board of American Citizens for Justice. She team-teaches "Asian Pacific American History and the Law" at University of Michigan and University of Michigan Dearborn. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at www.franceskaihwawang.com. She can be reached at fkwang888@gmail.com.

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!
[easy_sign_up phone="0"]

A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Hi...I am an Asian who was adopted and raised by Caucasian American missionaries in South America. I have two kids-my daughter is 16 and my son is 11. When I had my first baby I too was indoctrinate...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
This Karina, the Karina from the article. I'm now 13. It took this article was written 3 years ago and barely coming across it right now. I was originally trying to look for my folkloric pictures fo...
From How This Single Working Mom Raised a Trilingual Kid
Nice recipe, thank for shari...
From Vaisakhi Recipe: Sarson Ka Sag
I've been in Germany Ten years now, Lived in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, specifically Leonberg. In Frankfurt I was shocked by how unfriendly the People were, how aggressive their Drivers, but in Leonbe...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
At DreamAfrica, we are a streaming app for animations and films from around the world. We celebrate cultural representation in digital media and invite you to download and share our DreamAfrica appp...
From What We Are Not About
Imagine those people who work at your typical IT Department, yeah those weirdos with low EQ, no manners, no social skills; indeed those who kiss the bosses' ass when it's convenient, but get offend...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I contacted the editor of this magazine (Stephanie) and she told me she'd inform Jan about this article. I have since changed my mind about going to Germany because of Merkel's policies, and this i...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@Daniela You speak BS, you have never seen Franconia, or you're a Franconian girl. In the second case, I know that no intellectual conversation could be made with Franconian people, because you'r...
From Are Germans Really Rude?

More Adventures in Multicultural Living