love letter to a president

heart stones

this time we will

INcite with angel Kyodo williams

Valentine’s Day is upon us, so it seems appropriate to reaffirm my love, most especially in those places in which I have been least clear. Just over three years ago, I wrote a short essay called “finally american.” It was a love letter of sorts in which I expressed my relief in being able to claim my nationality with dignity and pride instead of shame and disdain. I used “hope” in some form no less than three times.

Since then, like many others, I’ve watched that hope wane under the most relentless onslaught of political pounding of a President any of us has ever seen. Because I was so disappointed by the chasm between that hope and the reality, I stopped professing my love. I sit here now, realizing all is not lost. My feelings have been hurt and I have felt betrayed, but in the end, I still not only believe in, but hold love for, not Barack Obama, Savior, but my President, Barack Obama, the man.

I know many of us may still believe he failed and owes us. Maybe we’ll even be tempted to punish him by staying home pouting this election year. I suggest we leave the childish crush of 2008 behind and this year, invest in a grownup—and mutually supportive—love.


Dear Mr. President,

From the first time I laid eyes on you, I knew I was in love. I didn’t want to be, so I hid it from myself by saying you couldn’t win. Electrifying the DNC was one thing, but They wouldn’t allow it, we said. You were too young. Too inexperienced. With too Muslim a name. And, yes, too Black.

But you kept wowing us with your fantastic smile, unflinching confidence and unequivocal Yes, We Can. And so we did. You were Presidential. I believed you. And so did many others. So we got hitched and got behind you and win, you did.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Hunkered down around the television, we clung to every word as you swept the nation off its feet in a resounding victory. In triumph, we poured into the streets, dancing into the night as if Liberation, herself, had finally come.

We carried you across the threshold into the White House on a delirious wave of excitement, brimming with expectation and overwhelmed by the potential that lay before us in this great union: Hope. Progress. Change.

And then we left you there.

No sooner than when you took your seat, they began to wrench the legs out from underneath you. We looked on with dismay as they took everything you had. We sat aside in horror as they made you fight for anything or anyone you wanted. We recoiled in disbelief as they turned the things that could have been your sweetest victories into bitter fruit. The ugliness of it all was too much to bear.

So we turned away.

Then there was that Tea Party, a terrible event that shocked us to our core. Not only were we not invited, but brazenly reminded that we never belonged. Our naïveté about the depth and nakedness of hate was laid bare. The coded language didn’t even seek to mask the righteous indignance of racial superiority. We were not real Americans and they wanted us to leave so they could Take Back America.

We were so delighted with ourselves for having you, we forgot to show up for you. We set forth our demands and desires, but were not flexible enough to see where you needed our support. We brought our challenges and critiques, but did not express the unconditional love you deserve for your willingness to continue to show up every day they tried to beat you down. In short, we did not give you what you needed to be your best and blamed only you for coming up short. But we were the ones that walked away from you.

The limitation of our childish love was suffered by us all, and our lessons hard won:

  • We now realize that this marriage is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
  • We see that compromise is necessary and we can’t just turn our backs whenever things don’t go our way.
  • We recognize that this system of “checks and balances” can be used to hold a President hostage, and that by letting Fear and Hate win, we tied your hands ourselves.

So we ask for your forgiveness, Mr. President. I ask for it. I may have strayed, but my intention is clear. My resolve is firm. My love is true.

Give us one more chance. This time, we will.

—yours in truth, aKw

dedicated to the people in my life that i have not sufficiently expressed my unconditional love for: may i be forgiven and may you know that you were, are and always will be for me both source and subject of great, abiding, unwavering love.

copyright ©MMXII. angel Kyodo williams
changeangel: all things change. (sm)
angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste & repeat
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About angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams, the “change angel,” is Founder Emeritus of a Center for Transformative Change. She now serves as a Senior Fellow and Director of Vision. A social visionary and leading voice for transformative social change, she is the author of the critically-acclaimed Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living With Fearlessness and Grace.
Facebook: Like angel on Facebook
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Blog: new Dharma: live, love & lead from the heart
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  1. Betsy MacGregor says:

    Angel Kyodo Williams, you just gave me the biggest gift I can imagine receiving. I was definitely losing hope — and what a soul-sickening feeling that is! — when I read your letter, and it saved me. I see that having hope is a matter of my own bravery and not something that the wiles of small-minded people can take away from me. It is a matter of staying in touch with love, and that’s exactly what you did for me: you reminded me of my heart’s profound love and gratitude for Barack Obama. What a gift that is!


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