6:56 PM

Dear Mr. President

Posted by Prosy Delacruz

President Barack Obama departing on Air Force One. Photo by Prosy Delacruz.
President Barack Obama at the California Science Center during Barbara Boxer's fundraiser.

( Photo courtesy of Randy Palisoc )

“We are fortunate in our society that a means of resistance has been built into the law and the political process-the vote. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democracy. We must use our votes, our power, and our organizational abilities to create a movement for good. We must not give up this power. We must not give in. We must not give out. We must use what we have – all our talents, resources, energy, and creativity. We must do all we can to help build a better nation and a better world. “ Congressman John Lewis

Today, as I shook your hand, Mr. President, I caught your genuine broad smile, from the second row of the California Science Center’s Annenberg Building, I caught a glimpse of your soul in your eyes. Eyes that tell us you see us, eyes that tell us we matter, and eyes that tell us that you work hard on our behalf. Eyes that tell us you are determined to secure a future not just for me, as I enter the autumn years of my life, but for my young children, one in graduate school and another working fulltime, both can now breathe easier because of the medical health reform bill that you signed in March 2010. The first day of spring became the first day of change for my family and with health care reform no longer the burdensome struggle that we must carry from our generation to the next.

My Self Like Others. Today, as I shook your hand, I boldy said “ Dream Come True, Mr. President! “ You smiled, looked at me, and moved to shake the hands of the next person. We wanted our very own precious moments with you. They may seem but, glimpses of our president, but priceless as to the journey of how each got here.

Another boldly wanted to show her motorcycle permit, yes, her permit issued by DMV, to show that she too broke out of her shell to go “ Broom, Broom, Broom…” with her hands firmly on the steering handles, as if a metaphor for taking her own future into her own hands in voting a President who she believes in. “ I want the President to know I like how he is making us more respectable in the world again, by having us come back to our compassionate spirit as Americans!” I thought I was alone in that reflection. Oops, I was wrong.

Another described how she just left the hospital, two days still wobbly on her foot, but determined to show her support for you. She asked if I could hold her space in line, while she sat down and rested on the bench. She used to be part of the Clinton Administration, but now no longer with that privilege, she too joined us in line, waiting patiently.

To Randy Palisoc, founder of Synergy Charter Academies, he said: "I couldn't pass up this opportunity to see President Obama in person. You could feel the electricity in the air, and I felt like I was a part of history."

Actually Christine Oshima, a friend of mine, endured her pain, postponed her knee surgery and travelled in crutches, from LAX to DC, as she wanted to see you in person inaugurated. She got to Washington, D.C., walked two miles and found instead, her own inner resolve to overcome challenges. She is now mobile and active, thanks to her determination to see you.

Another described the strength of living with diversity in Los Angeles. She is a retired teacher. She said that in Los Angeles, we find ourselves locked in space with someone different from us, that living here means not about enduring differences, but how to merge with that difference. She used the metaphor of freeways to clarify. She went on to say that in driving the freeways, even if crowded in Los Angeles, we take turns, we make room for others, and we know how to merge.

Her concept of diversity is different from mine, which is inclusivity all at once, as we witness exclusion every step of our journey, every day it seems. Hence for me, it is equal distribution, but for her, as she is a white woman, it is about taking turns, it is about giving way to others, it is sharing the space, just like in Aloha Hawaii. I realized then and there that we all have our own truths, and we need to merge our own truths with others, if our country is to move forward: The truth as you see it, Mr. President, the truth as others see it, and the truth we can all call as ours.

My Journey. For me, it took 3 years to reach this moment. 2 years of working for your campaign took me out of my comfort zone. Yes, out of my comfort zone to reach out to strangers and neighbors in my community and blog about our collective thoughts. It also gave me an inner will to relate to all folks, regardless of backgrounds, even to call independents and conservatives in Nevada or Florida, and have a dialogue on why I am voting for you, Mr. President. At one point, I was considered a heretic in my community because I am voting for you.

When I got more confident as I stood up for why a vote for you, I took it a bit further by going on television and debated a GOP. I may not have convinced him to cross party lines, but at the end of the television segment, he made a promise that he will seek me out and do joint projects because he enjoyed debating the merits and demerits of his beliefs and mine.

What I learned is to confront my truth with theirs ( the GOPs ) and from a personal ability to hold contrasting views, I can move forward to function. I learned from the example you showed us tonight how to handle the heckler, even if limited to few loud voices, where the interruption a mere two minutes, yet the electronic media of Los Angeles captured it as conflict, captured it as increasing dissent to Obama’s policies.

There was no conflict, as you and Sen. Boxer support the repeal of “ Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If only Channels 4, 5, 11 and 9 took the time to immerse themselves in the lines, they would have heard the stories of journeys, which took folks to love and respect their president, this, they would have heard how you did it with grace.

She’s passionate about fighting for jobs, jobs with good wages, jobs with good benefits. She’s passionate about fighting for California’s families. She is --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!”

THE PRESIDENT: We are going to do that. Hey,hold on a second, hold on a second. We are going to do that.

AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT: Here we go. All right -- guys, guys, all right. I agree, I agree, I agree. (Applause.) Now --


THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, no, listen. What the young man was talking about was we need to -- we need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don't Tell,” which I agree with and which we have begun to do. (Applause.) But let me say this: When you’ve got an ally like Barbara Boxer and you’ve got an ally like me who are standing for the same thing, then you don't know exactly why you’ve got to holler, because we already hear you, all right? (Applause.) I mean, it would have made more sense to holler that at the people who oppose it. (Applause.)

When you’ve got Barbara Boxer, who is passionate to give people all across this state a fair shake, to put the American Dream within reach for all Americans, then what we should be worried about is how are we going to make sure Barbara Boxer gets elected. (Applause.)

And that's mostly what I want to talk about tonight. I am proud of the work we’ve done to bring the world together around a host of problems, from terrorism to the nuclear threat; from climate change to deprivation and poverty around the globe. I was gratified to sign a new START treaty with Russia -- (applause) -- and to host so many world leaders in Washington last week, working in concert to reduce the perilous risk that nuclear materials could fall into the wrong hands.

But reviving our own economy remains the central challenge that we’re facing today. I don’t have to tell you that. This state has been hit as hard as any state in the union with economic troubles these past few years. Jobs have been lost at a heartbreaking level all across this state, and they’ve devastated families and devastated communities.

The housing crisis hit this state with a particular vengeance, driving your friends, your neighbors out of their homes, injecting a sense of fear and financial insecurity into too many people’s lives.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It’s time for equality for all Americans!

THE PRESIDENT: I’m sorry, do you want to come up here? (Applause.) You know, the -- all right, because can I just say, once again, Barbara and I are supportive of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” so I don't know why you’re hollering.

Now, the problems that we have here put a further strain on folks in this state, forcing painful choices about where to spend and where to save. And the challenges folks have been facing here --


AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT: Barbara -- I just -- everybody, I just wanted to confirm -- I just wanted to confirm -- I just checked with Barbara, so if anybody else is thinking about starting a chant, Barbara didn’t even vote for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the first place, so you know she’s going to be in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” (Applause.)

Now, that is a key issue, but I think putting Californians back to work is also a key issue -- (applause) -- because there are folks, gay and straight, who are out of work right now. (Applause.) And the challenges that are being faced right here in California are facing Americans all across the country.

While in lines, folks displayed proudly what they were wearing, symbols of how hard they worked for you: Woman for Obama pin, Labor for Obama pin, Obama ’08 jersey, Obama 44 t-shirt, First Family 2008 pin, Obama/Biden placard, all to show why they refer to you as “ I love my president! “ One took notice and said, “ He is our President, you know “. She disagreed and said, “ No, I feel he is my president, as this is the first time in a long 8 years of drought under GWB that I can now claim again that the White House resident is my president. So he is my president! “. Her disaffection from government has been replaced with genuine love and affection.

How God held me in His Hands. Last year, a dream of meeting Miss Oprah Winfrey came true for me, courtesy of friends in the community. Reflecting on my luck of seeing Miss Oprah, after dreaming of this for 20 years, I figured that it will take less time to meet my President in person.

So, it came to pass. I wrote down my 2010 dreams, one of which is to meet Mr. President Obama in person. Hence, in the first week of April, when I was invited to buy a seat in Senator Barbara Boxer’s fundraiser, I did not hesitate. I grabbed the opportunity. Of course, unable to pay the high end price, I opted for the low end organizer's price.

What I did not expect were unsolicited acts of kindness: a free cup of coffee from a neighborhood miracle bakery, La Maison Du Pain, to get me going for the day. I call it miracle, for most of the successful community projects are birthed at this bakery, including the successful Obama meetings we held in the sidewalks in front of this site, where folks drove all the way from San Diego, San Gabriel Valley, attracted to the promise of positive synergy, including the greening of an elementary school to host a neighborhood garden of produce.

I went to the “ America I am/African American Imprint “ Exhibit at the California Science Center, which traced the journey of African Americans for the last 500 years, hours before meeting you, Mr. President. I was so overcome with emotions when I entered the “ Doors of No Return “. To see the imprint of 1800s on the wooden doors, which kept, folks in bondage got me crying. I literally could not walk inside the tunnel. An African-American docent accompanied me. He inspired him when he reminded me of W.E. B. Du Bois’ words of wisdom “ There is in this world no such force as the force of a person determined to rise. The human soul cannot be permanently claimed. “

It is that spirit which he told me - that spirit which allowed his ancestors to survive, 12 million out of 16 million slaves, scattered across Americas, never to return home. He reminded me that the spirit of 292 slaves allowed them to endure a confined space in the slave boat, divided in three sections, the left reserved for women, the center for children, and the right corner, men shackled to one another, bound with metal around their necks and ankles and wrists. He reminded me that their spirits allowed them to survive the tight space by assuming the position called “ spooning “, lying on one’s side, their muscles in atrophy, while laying in their own feces and urine. In all, he reminded me, 52,444 slave voyages occurred from 1500s until it ended in 1887.

I could not imagine the inhumanity that your forefathers must have undergone, Mr. President. But, in the same breath, he reminded me that his ancestors had extraordinary fortitude, intestinal gut, fierce courage to say, “ I can, I will, I can do this, I will survive and I am capable. “ Then, we talked about his job, how he became a docent. He told me of being corrected by a hypercritical teacher/mother that to this day, he continues to misspell the same word she corrected him persistently. He said that criticisms, unfounded that is, toxifies the spirit, corrodes it like any.

Mr. President, doesn’t this make you recall how the GOPs are trying their darndest to toxify your spirit? How they hyperscrutinize you as if you are being lynched so as to diminish your inner determination and make you buckle in your knees to withdraw from banking reforms? Hmm….it truly made me recall of what you go through each day when unjustified criticisms come your way.

I asked him how long will the exhibit last. He said he would lose his job by May 2 and he did not know what the future held for him, as the job statistics were daunting. Now, it was my turn to inspire him. I told him "Remember the beginning of the exhibit and how Cornel West and Tavis Smiley were in conversations about what your ancestors endured?"

I told him that his ancestors’ after-life compel him to have a life of magnificence, and nothing short to dignify what they endured during those voyages: “ shackled and trapped in the bowels of a slave, unable to go home again, the captives would now have no choice but to live in the struggle, a fierce, many-sided, never-ending fight to survive, to live of necessity in a new way. “ (Marcus Rediker). Recall how President Barack Obama’s indescribable genius is now personified into profound intelligence in how he tackles all prior problems that remained unresolved? I continued-imagine the health care reform that used to be a generational struggle no longer is our burden, but now a generational duty and a right to pass on to our children? Imagine if in the White House today we did not have a President Barack Obama? Would not our future be so bleak?"

He picked up his steps, and at the end of his presentation on the slave boat, he gave us the exhibit-goers, his own inspiring words. “ I want you not just to remember the horrors of our ancestral past, I saw you overcome with grief while he pointed to me, but I also want you to remember the grit and fortitude it took to withstand the slavery to where we are today, it took unbelievable self-confidence, unbelievable self-worth and unbelievable self-regard. Their after-lives must manifest in your life, if only to honor what they went through to overcome their indignities and journey to freedom in reclaiming their dignities!"

Yes, we became each other’ s keeper of optimism, survival joy that at times, became temporarily derailed by the enormous problems we all face, 14% unemployment in California, 30% in South Central Los Angeles.

But, the best part, the guard at the exhibit gave me her unopened bottled water so that I could get in line, just like others. “ Go, go, they are on their way now “, she said, three hours before the scheduled check-in. And the night before, Mr. President, a blind GOP lawyer friend of mine, awaiting for his federal appointment, called me out of the blue and gave me tips on being myself as I meet my president. He too had his own journey. He met GWB and told him "I would work for you in May 2004." Months later, he did. And now, he awaits his turn to serve you, Mr. President. I believe my blind lawyer/friend is a true patriot, as he puts the NATION’s Interests first before himself, NATION’s interests before party loyalty and from him, absolute optimism is what I learned.

He told me that I already attracted the opportunity to meet you, so it must be in my stars to meet you in person. I was as sure as he was that I would meet you, when I got his unsolicited call. “ Yes, Ollie, it is Ask and it Shall be Given! “ He got excited, “ Tita, you read Esther Hicks’s book? “ Yes, Ollie, I do! "

Mr. President, Ask and It shall be given! The next day, another rare opportunity came up. I was invited to be part of the White House Press Pool to say goodbye to you on Air Force One. I could not sleep at the prospect of meeting you again, Mr. President. I had a few days to turn in a letter from my editor, to validate my press credentials, and it had to be done on Saturday.Luckily for me, my publisher responded and the letter was faxed on time. I got my media permit for Asian Journal and I was listed as part of the White House Press Pool. I was in line along with satellite trucks of Channels 2, 4, 5, 7 and 11 as early as 445am. Soon, there were 20 of us in line, waiting for security check-in and to be LAPD-escorted within 40 feet of Air Force One. I had a direct view of the open door to Air Force One. An added bonus, to take a photo of Air Force One, with the sun rising in the background. It was a great symbol for me, an Easter, a Resurrection of New Values of Care, a New Vision of caring for Others, a renewed Social Contract to care for the next seven generations to come.

Mr. President, these two experiences of seeing you in person have now imprinted me permanently, indelibly etched in my memory to last. Just as I wanted to see you with my own two eyes, I was even more blessed to see you in action with your compassionate heart.

Once I had a dream, and I went after it aggressively to elect a good man to the White House, a man of superior leadership skills, a man of compassionate heart and good spirit. But God had a better Dream for all of us, a vision of hope for our time and a UNITED States of AMERICA, based on a new compassionate spirit, inclusive of others.

Mr. President, thank you for this lifetime of an experience! We see you, and like you, I became truly an American in spirit, in boldness of optimism, in struggle to overcome difficulties and in becoming more wholesome, as you keep showing by your example, as you are our Good Sheperd, leading us in a way to rebuild our economy based not just on social capital, but on social trust, transcending our racialized and segregated past.

May God shower you with His Invisible Grace, that you make VISIBLE through your actions in the White House!


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