Barack Obama had what many would consider a trying and problematic beginning of life. Raised mostly by his grandparents, he moved often, changing regions and countries several times. In addition, he lived many of these early years in extreme poverty. In his speeches, Obama talks often of these difficult times and the marks they left on him.
The son of a teenage white mother from Kansas and a black Kenyan father, and a child who was uprooted on several occasions, he could have become an isolated recluse. Or, he could have turned into one of those individuals with ìidentity issuesî who seem to be constantly searching, and fitting in nowhere.
Instead, Barack Obama was able to turn a difficult and turbulent childhood into a learning experience that allowed him to develop his character. When he speaks about growing up in poverty, he does so without bitterness or despair, but with admiration for America, the only country, according to him, where his story of rise to power would have been possible, given his humble origins.
Obama’s stories of living poor during his formative years make exceedingly credible his claims of empathy with the disadvantaged, impoverished or neglected people in America.
When president Obama speaks about his multiracial origins, or when he writes of them in his book, Dreams from My Father, he refuses to see the tragic side of his mixed blood, and he refuses to dwell on the frustrations of feeling torn between worlds. On the contrary, he focuses on the lessons garnered from the diverse events and encounters of his early days.