I didn’t really know my father—he left my mother and me when I was two years old, and only traveled from Kenya to visit us once

Barack Obama

I didn’t really know my father—he left my mother and me when I was two years old, and only traveled from Kenya to visit us once, when I was ten. That trip was the first and last I saw of him; after that, I heard from him only through the occasional letter, written on thin blue airmail paper that was preprinted to fold and address without an envelope.


His short visit had a profound impact on my life. My father gave me my first basketball and introduced me to jazz. But for the most part, the visit left me with more questions than it answered, and I knew I would have to figure out how to be a man on my own.
In our latest conversation on Renegades: Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
and I explore the topic of masculinity and the influence that our fathers—both flawed role models—had on our lives. We also talk about the message American culture sends to boys about what it means to be a man—a message that too often emphasizes physical toughness over sensitivity; the need to dominate over the ability to love and care for others. Listen now on Spotify: spoti.fi/RenegadesEpisode6