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Carrie Tuhy Headshot

Cecilia and Identity Politics

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Denver hotels are sold out this week with an overflow crowd of delegates, press and VIPS in town for this historic convention. Even the homeless who usually get hotel chits from the city had to relocate to humbler environs. Lucky for me, one of my college friends lives here and I'm staying in her extra bedroom. I too had to displace someone: her nearly four-year-old granddaughter who normally stays in the toy-filled room I am occupying.

Cecilia is precocious and articulate for her age -- and an early Hillary supporter. When asked to pick between the two Democratic candidates during the endless primary contest, she picked Mrs. Clinton based on looks I'm presuming. Tuesday night she got to stay up late and watch Hillary's speech for party unity. Asked her takeaway, Cecilia replied, parroting the former first lady and presidential candidate's words: "Any little girl in America can grow up to be whatever she wants." Then, because it was past her bedtime, she retired to a makeshift mattress on the floor of her grandparent's room.

Cecilia is a lucky little girl for a number of reasons. In the convention tradition of biographical sketches; here are the details of her short life. Her mother is an immigrant from Nigeria, her father, the son of an upper middle class white family. Her birth was the result of casual dalliance. Though her parents did not marry, both they and their extended families are involved in her upbringing. It takes a village, after all.

I don't know if Cecilia is ready to throw her support to Obama yet--she was too busy preparing for pre-school for me to ask this morning--but if she thought about it she'd understand that Barack Obama's life story holds the same promise and inspiration: Any child like her in the United States can grow to be whatever she wants.

Yes, this is a historic convention. And tomorrow night, the first African American will accept the Democratic nomination for President. It could have gone the other way. And that makes it historic as well. Any child whether black or white, male or female can grow up to run for President. I hope when Cecilia gets to cast her first vote 17 years from now, however, she won't make her choice based on identity politics. I hope those variables--race, gender,age, sexual orientation--won't be issues at all. That would really be historic.