blogitto ergo sum

July 4, 2011

#192 – the president’s family – thoughts

Obamas - mother and son

over latte, browsing/reading through the too many magazines accumulated in the house.

eyes fell on the book review of A Singular Woman: The untold Story of Barak Obama’s Mother. not like the mother i would have expected. not at all.

on the other hand, to realize that Obama’s family is probably as diverse as most American family based sitcoms, means that unlike many, he knows a thing or two about diversity, multiculturalism and making different value systems work together.

true, i can’t say that he demonstrated that unique perspective so far, but the US have never before had a president that could even relate to it.

seriously, the president has a half-Indonesian half-sister – Maya, few Kenyan half siblings and a Chinese-Canadian brother-in Law – Konrad Ng for a family.

what have you done [or experienced] as far as cross-cultural dialog and living together are concerned?

hey, wait. the book is about Obama’s MOTHER, a most unusual woman.

Indeed, Stanley Ann Dunham must have been an amazing woman. from Kansas to Hawaii, to Indonesia… pregnant at 17… and yet she completed her Ph.D., her two kids made it to grad school, got nice careers…. and the older one even became the 44th American president.

i think this book is about to land on my new iToy.

Thank you Janny Scott.



  1. Multi-cultural families are not such an unusual thing nowadays – certainly not for many of the Israelis or Jewish families. My son is married to a nice lady who is half Algerian, half Polish. My other’s son girlfriend is half German, half Yemenite. My cousins live on five different continents and through their marriages I got people belonging to all the three big monotheistic faiths as cousins. One of my cousins was first married with a Catholic from Costa Rica and his second marriage is with a Muslim lady from Morocco. He lives in Switzerland, works for an American company and sells in the Middle East. My two cousins in Hungary have Catholic and Reform Christians wives. Another cousin from Florida is married to an Italian who converted to Judaism, but the rest of her family are typical Bronx New Yorkers of Italian descent. Liliana’s cousin married and lives for more than 30 years in Brasil. An uncle of mine lives in SIdney, is married with an Irish woman who teaches in Hong Kong and works for the UN. How do we live together and how is the cross-cultural dialog going? Pretty well I guess as we all have a common sense of family values and we all appreciate and respect the places we come from and try to learn and respect the places and cultures the other members of the family come from. Just a century ago all the family was living in a small shtetl in Eastern Europe and none of them probably ever traveled more than a few tens or hundreds of kilometers all their lives if at all. World changed.

    Comment by Dan Romascanu — July 4, 2011 @ 13:03 | Reply

    • true, and thank you for sharing. it’s not about you or me though.
      what are the chances that anyone of your diverse, multi-national, cross-geos family members will end up running a county? any country? how diverse are the families of the people who run Israel? and i mean not only Israel’s morally-challenged political system, but also the families who run the money/power grid of the country. How diverse & multicultural are they?

      Comment by yael [ya-el] wagner — July 4, 2011 @ 13:23 | Reply

      • Well, the question you asked initially seemed to be about us (the readers of the blog):

        > what have you done [or experienced] as far as cross-cultural dialog and living together are concerned?

        Now you seem to ask a different question. Is a multi-cultural environment a handicap in running a country? I would say that diversity makes its way up to the spheres of success in many domains in most of the countries including Israel, including many of the formerly monolithic (culturally) countries in Europe, and it will reach into politics sooner or later (if it did not reach there already). Maybe not that fast as we would like to, but the direction seems to me clear and irreversible. I believe that any of my cousins’ kids or my kids have equal chances any other non-privileged kid in their generation to get to leadership positions in their countries if they only had the aptitudes and the will. Obama was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth either. His story is possible today not only in the US I believe. We already had a president of humble Iranian origin, do not forget, and the fact that his career did not end that well does not diminish his achievement of getting there.

        Comment by Dan Romascanu — July 4, 2011 @ 13:47

  2. hmmm. do i really want to get into this? not really. your initial comment was a list of relations. our experience discussing cultures and identities, to the best of my memory, yielded no agreement. the open-mindness and choices of one’s off-springs may reflect on one, but only to a point. Do you think that parents become more open-minded and less judgmental as a function of whom their kids chose for partners? i know enough examples to the contrary.
    most certainly I’m NOT saying that “multi-cultural environment [is] a handicap in running a country”!!! if anything, i say and firmly that in today’s diverse world, the opposite is preferred, better and will help a leader’s success.
    re the Israeli president, are you talking about the rapist, or someone else?
    for the non-Israelis, the president position in Israel is not a power position; that one would be the prime-minister.
    how he got there – not by merit. political “scheming”, and i use the term loosely here, is not something to be proud of, is it?
    this post is about sharing a book review that that thoughts and searches it triggered, some thoughts about Obama, his family, and most importantly, about how unique his mother was. i am more than happy to leave it at that.

    Comment by yael [ya-el] wagner — July 4, 2011 @ 14:13 | Reply

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