A letter to my daughter, Natalia:
When Barack Obama was sworn in as president four years ago, I watched on the frigid National Mall with 1.8 million others after taking a long bus ride from South Florida. I stood next to an elderly woman from Fort Lauderdale who wept as he took the oath.
Her ancestors were slaves. When she grew up, she couldn't eat at the same restaurants, go to the same schools or swim in the same pools as whites. All because of the dark color of her skin.
For Obama's second inaugural on Monday, I watched on TV from my couch. You, my daughter, were in the next room.
You're only seven, only a first-grader, and the pomp and pageantry of our democracy doesn't excite you. But I wanted to write something explaining this moment, and our country's future.
When you grow up, you deserve to have the same opportunities as anyone else, male or female, black or white, rich or poor. I'm glad you say you want to compete as a gymnast in the Olympics and then become a surgeon. And I'm glad you asked me how come there weren't any women playing when we watched a Dolphins game this year. Your mind is already grasping the possibilities.
One day a woman will be elected president. Perhaps in 2016. Or perhaps in 2024, the first election when you'll be old enough to vote.
Obama, our first black president, understands the inherent injustice of inequality more than most.
When our country was founded, the revolutionaries who rejected a monarch said that all men were created equal. But at that time, women couldn't vote and blacks were slaves. Equality wasn't truly equal.
"When times change, so must we," Obama said Monday.
It took a bloody Civil War to end slavery in 1865 and start blacks on the road to equality. It took a strong suffrage movement before women got the right to vote in 1920, less than 100 years ago.
Martin Luther King Jr. agitated to end a racially divided society in the 1960s. He was killed for it. At that time, it was still against the law in many places for whites to marry blacks. That seems crazy now.
Just as it will seem crazy one day that gay couples — people of the same sex — couldn't marry.
On Monday, Obama was bold enough to mention big-picture concerns like global warming. He also sounded the drumbeat of equality's onward march.
"Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts," Obama said. "Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
These are simple, eloquent sentiments.
One day, my girl, I hope you appreciate them.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4508