Eugene Cho

a black president playing with his asian-american niece. huh?

Why can’t I stop looking at this photo?

Per the note on the Official White House Photostream, President Barack Obama plays with his Chinese-American niece Savita Ng [child of Conrad & Maya Ng] during the family’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 25 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

I am so mesmerized by this photo.

A bi-racial Black President playing with his Chinese niece…  Wow.

The world is changing. America is changing. Are you changing?

What comes to your mind when you see this photo? Please don’t say, “Oooh, look at that Socialist baby…”

obama_sevita

[h/t  i.y. & white house photostream]

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39 Responses

  1. phyllisophy says:

    what comes to mind: how cool is it that your uncle is the president of the usa?

  2. gar says:

    One step closer to an Asian American in the White House? Hope so.

    But I definitely love the fact that our biracial president has a person of Chinese descent in the (extended) first family…😉

  3. saras says:

    that baby is loving life!🙂

  4. Marlow says:

    This is a good thing for the world!

  5. Linda Gilmore says:

    A couple of thoughts:
    This is the future — this is what America will look like more and more in the next few years (and I’m fine with that).
    What an adorable child.

    And one more thing — I would be remiss as a K-Stater if I failed to mention that Pete Souza, the White House photographer, is a K-State grad.

  6. your friend says:

    I often do not see that people look Chinese or black at first sight. I first see smiles, laughter, movement in a photo.

    Maybe the reason is because I have been surrounded by people of another ethnicity for 25 years by now and I feel I at home, I know I belong. I have long forgotten that they look different from my typical caucasian looks.

  7. Bill Kinnon says:

    How cool is that! A beautiful image.

  8. Kim says:

    I first see: pure glee and gentle care

  9. Corrine says:

    how cool is it that your uncle is the president of the USA? – I 100% agree with that comment.

    Mostly, I just see it as beautiful photo. Two very happy people enjoying life. And, the baby is adorable, of course.

    I wish that this photo could just be appreciated as a great shot by a good photographer and a heartwarming subject matter. What I mean is, I wish multiculturalism wasn’t such a shock. Why should it be such a big deal that there is a biracial President (a fact many people actually ignore, his poor mom-doesn’t she count). Why is so profound that he is playing with an Asian-American baby?

    Why does “race” matter so much? Maybe if we just appreciate the photo for the smile that it brings, then race *won’t* be such a big deal.

    Corrine

    ps. Yes, I am “white” but my background is Native Canadian, Irish, German-Jew, Turkish-Hungarian and Roma. I have an olive complex and tan VERY dark and looked very Middle Eastern as a child. I was followed home in grade school and called racist names, so I do understand the problems of racism.

  10. My first reaction is that God is so amazing we often fail to realize Him in the small stuff. Though we are as diverse as any of Gods’ Creation we are basically the same; that’s why we reproduce after our kind…people. I Love you Jesus

  11. Kacie says:

    Yeah, that is just crazy. It’s surreal for me, but I love it, because although I’m from a Midwestern white family I grew up overseas and my friends are from everywhere, so the Obama family mirrors my life somewhat and I LOVE IT.

  12. Joe says:

    My first thought when I saw the photo yesterday was:

    I wonder if Eugene is going to blog on this photo?

  13. Mike Clawson says:

    My thought was that she doesn’t care at all that her uncle is the President. All she knows is that it’s a lot of fun when he lifts her into the air.🙂

  14. Steve K. says:

    first thoughts/reactions …

    this is beautiful

    this is the future of the United States

    this makes me feel joyful and hopeful

  15. Adriana Nguyen says:

    Now this is something I can relate to.

  16. ryan says:

    my first thought is, I love that she has no real idea who he is (how famous, powerful, etc.) but just loves this interaction with this man who cares about her.

  17. justin says:

    i think: “that baby looks alot like katherine heigl’s newly adopted korean baby”

  18. david says:

    @corrine: i hate to play the “race police,” but the reason race does matter so much is because of the fact that we live in a highly racialized society, no matter how “colorblind” the intentions of nice people may be. the reason that race is significant for this particular photo is that it speaks to me as a person of color in ways that are tacit and intangible, reminding me of how amazing it is that these simple photos would have been inconceivable just a generation before.

    so is it in part a beautiful image of two people, regardless of race? yes. but is it also much more than that because of our nation’s unique racial and political history? of course. lastly, i’m sure you’re a nice, intelligent, thoughtful person, but i would just personally recommend against saying that you “understand the problems of racism” because of some childhood difficulties. certainly those experiences can provide a window into the realities of discrimination, but they hardly help us to grasp the complex and pervasive nature of a racialized society.

  19. steven says:

    @david,

    Why is it that you are allowed to have insight into racial issues, but Corrine isn’t?

    Is hers no less a valid or insightful position because she is of a different race than yours?

    Your position is valid, but so is hers. Neither position should be invalidated because of the race of the position holder…

    …don’t you think?

  20. julie says:

    I think the photo is gorgeous.

    Unfortunately its rare to see one of its type, except in carefully crafted “multicultural” advertisements.

    I’m married inter-ethnically (I try not too say “race” because race is pseudo scientific). There’s not too many cards, photos, knickknacks that represent us. (In such a materialistic culture that’s quite a shock🙂

  21. Barb says:

    a foretaste of the Kingdom of God

  22. elderj says:

    I don’t think of much when I see it. Nice photo is all. I mean… I don’t see anything particularly profound in it.

    The world is changing. America is changing. I don’t know about that; it all depends on how you measure it.

  23. david says:

    @steven: i didn’t mean to imply that corrine isn’t “allowed to have insight into racial issues”; of course she is more than entitled to her perspective (and invited to share it, as she has). nor was i trying to “invalidate” anyone’s “position.” what i was getting at is simply this: it’s one thing for me to say that i have experienced discrimination as a person of color (or as a white person, or what have you); it’s another thing entirely to assert that “i understand racism” when we need to be particularly careful of making claims on what we do or do not understand in consideration of the complex, systemic societal inequities wrought by a culture steeped in racialization. i think (just my assumption here) that corrine actually meant the former; it was merely my suggestion that she avoid wording it that way in case of implying the latter. this is probably not a great example, but no matter how much i’ve studied slavery (from a historical, sociological, psychological perspective, etc), i would hesitate to say that i “understand” it to those who are much more intimately connected to its ugly legacy.

  24. a reluctant blogger says:

    Awesome P.R.

    I’m not saying it’s contrived.

    I’m saying it has a purpose.

  25. Leah says:

    My first thought is that it’s really cool to see the president in such a normal, everyday human moment. I think we sometimes forget that political leaders are people like us!

  26. […] American figure representing a multi-racial family!  Does my heart some good   Thanks to Eugene Cho for his post point me to it! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Deadly recession cure […]

  27. […] As a fall treat, here’s a picture from the White House photostream of Barack playing with his Asian-American niece, Savita: Eugene Cho blogs about it. […]

  28. Janice says:

    What comes to your mind when you see this photo? Please don’t say, “Oooh, look at that Socialist baby…”

    I had to really laugh out loud! That was the first thing on my mind haha!

    Okay, I give the president the benefit of a doubt.. I like this pic. Awesome. No it’s not about an Asian American being one step closer to the White house..
    Pictures speaks a thousand word. This picture shows no barriers. No matter race, jobs, single or married, homeless, rich.. we all can still love each other regardless.

    Community! ( Can you tell I’ve been watching your sermons online LOL)🙂

  29. Mary says:

    I feel fondness for a beautiful multiethnic family, as something I can relate to. And I echo Barb’s encouraging sentiment: a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

  30. Marciah says:

    I’m thinkin’ I gotta get me an Asian-American neice. So cute!

  31. Trevor says:

    Beautiful photo, but are we reading too much into the meaning with the whole “America is changing” thing?

    The thing that most strikes me about the picture is not the racial aspect, but the fact that we get to see the president’s humanity and joy in the simple act of playing with a child. That’s not a side of the leader of the free world that we get to see very often. When we see him on TV, he’s usually in a suit, standing at a podium, speaking about policy issues that sometimes seem esoteric. This brings him down to our level. In this photo, it’s Uncle Barack, not President Obama.

  32. Rachel says:

    Unfortunately, I think racism is still rampant. The photo captures an ideal that is still ours to strive–racial harmony, understanding and acceptance.

    We’ve come a long way, but still a long way to go.

  33. Christina says:

    The first thing I think is “progress.” 🙂

  34. Nancy says:

    This is a beautiful picture. The baby is adorable and she is so innocent and loves her uncle playing with her. Of course, she doesn’t realize that her uncle is the President of the USA which is equally cool! He could be the garbage man and she still would be happy with him tossing her in the air. Babies are so cool that way. There’s no judgment – good or bad!

  35. Ditto to what most people have already said in their comments.

    Let me play my “race card” here, if you will.
    Savita is an Indian name (too). Does anyone know the origin or this child’s name?

  36. […] As a fall treat, here’s a picture from the White House photostream of Barack playing with his Asian-American niece, Savita: Eugene Cho blogs about it. […]

  37. Kendrick osorio says:

    I love this photo and our President !

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It appears I brought a little Seattle to the NYC. Drizzle fest. 24 hour gathering with a small group of leaders from around the country. Learning. Listening. Asking hard questions. Head exploding. Heart trying to have hope. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
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After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
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Forget my street cred.
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She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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