Families can be mysterious, intense and, more often than not, indecipherable to the outside world. Most families seem to endure similar gyrations and upheavals. There are moments of failure and success. There is admirable endurance. To study any individual family is to crisscross tricky terrain, and to invite an endless and almost timeless inquiry.
As Barack, Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama - the first family, along with grandma Marian Robinson - depart the White House, it is worth looking back at their visage. What did it mean to have a black family, for eight years, astride the political and cultural colossus of American society? How much did the "African" in "African American" resonate?
There perhaps is no other family unit in America that has been analyzed, poked and studied as much as the black family. Its habits, customs, rituals and odyssey have been tabulated, collated and stored for generations. The hyper-curiosity is rooted in slavery and the gouging, sweeping damage it wreaked upon a race of people.