Giving Children of Color Role Models

Three years ago, a White House photographer caught the image of President Obama bending down, so that 5-year old Jacob Philadelphia could feel his hair.

The New York Times reported that the conversation between the older statesmen, and the young boy went down like this:

“I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.

Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?” He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.

“Touch it, dude!” Mr. Obama said.

As Jacob patted the presidential crown, Mr. Souza snapped.

“So, what do you think?” Mr. Obama asked.

“Yes, it does feel the same,” Jacob said.


My blog isn’t about politics, although I may have something to say in the coming months since it looks as if the upcoming presidential election will force us even wider apart. (Even now, Latinos, Blacks, Women, Independents, etc. are attractive commodities.)

For now, I just want to focus on this picture.

Jacob’s father said to the Times’ reporter that “It’s important for black children to see a black man as president. You can believe that any position is possible to achieve if you see a black person in it.”

Jacob, now 8, was a lucky little boy. Few children get to meet one of the most powerful men on the planet. Instead, most children draw on images from other places to dream about what they may someday become.

As a writer, I want to give space to young people to believe that they’re important because I write about characters that look like the human rainbow. How thrilling would it be to have a child say to me, “Because of you, I want to tell stories too someday.”

I would love to hear something like that from a child of ANY background, but if it came from a child of color…. well, that would be amazing. 🙂

What did you think of the picture of 5-year old Jacob and the president?


One comment on “Giving Children of Color Role Models

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