Dear Mr. President,
You don’t know me but I’ve known you for a long time. Since I was a little girl, actually, when I first heard you speak. I can recall the way your words permeated my worldview, how the poetic cadence of your voice sent trickles down the spine of my 12-year-old self. I was in 6th grade, sitting in my classroom and watching coverage of the primaries. It was then that I first got to know who you are.
I remember a few months later when I voted for you during our school-wide mock presidential election. (If it’s any consolation, you won the 2008 Pacific Middle School election by a landslide.) I can recount the awe I felt that November night when you were declared the winner. I can still feel the gravity of the moment, the historical weight your election bore.
Throughout the last eight years, you’ve tirelessly cleaned up the seemingly immortal mess left behind by your reckless predecessor. Your two terms have been much less scandalous in comparison to many who have preceded you, yet you have been disproportionately criticized. Not only has much of that criticism been unmerited, but it is undoubtedly rooted in the suffocating racism on which this country was built. Yet, during all of it, you’ve carried out your presidency with unmatched integrity.
So thank you. Thank you for your courageousness. For your wisdom. For your care. You broke barriers many thought could never be broken. You broke barriers that many hoped would never be broken. You catalyzed a paradigm shift.
Eight years since that school-wide mock election in middle school, I finally got to vote in a real election, with a real ballot and everything. Although this 2016 election feels unreal in many ways, its results devastating and disappointing beyond words, it’s actually happened. Despite the outcome, it is my sincere hope that your presidency, as the first black man to lead this country, isn’t just a blip on the radar, but a sustained trend. I wish you could stay in the office for longer, but I understand that it’s time for you to go.
The forty-fourth, the first, but hopefully not the last. Hope lives on.
—Tess Riski, News Editor