Obama's Name Is My Name, Too

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/98766618/98766639" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

During the presidential campaign, President-elect Barack Obama wasn't the only person hearing jokes about his name. The privilege and curse of sharing a famous name.

(Soundbite of beep of answering machine)

Ms. YUNI(ph) OBAMA: This is the Obama residence. We can't come to the phone right now, but if you leave a message, we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you, and have a nice day.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

The president-elect said it himself, Obama is not a common name. So it's no surprise that Yuni Obama, the young voice on that answering machine message might be mistaken for Sasha Obama, the younger daughter of Barack Obama. Yuni isn't related to the Chicago Obamas, but that hasn't deterred callers. Here's Yuni's mom, Suzie(ph) Obama.

Ms. SUZIE OBAMA: I had one call from overseas. So, I'm not sure where it's from. But he had an accent, and he says to me Obama? So I said, Yes. And says, Barack Obama? So, I said, Why do you want to know? And he said, Barack Obama? So, I said, Yes, that's my husband. What do you want? And I hung up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SUZIE OBAMA: If you're going to call the president, at least know the area code. This is 386, Palm Coast, Florida.

HANSEN: Mrs. Obama said she's quite popular around town these days, especially at the Bank of America.

Ms. SUZIE OBAMA: That bank is the best, even though they don't give me any loans anymore. But every time I go in there, everybody would say, Mrs. Obama, why didn't you call first so we can put the red carpet down?

HANSEN: Being an Obama today means little jokes, gaping stares and lots of questions. Denise(ph) Obama is a freshman at the University of Virginia.

Ms. DENISE OBAMA: When I first started college, I was signing up for classes, and this girl signed up after me, and I was getting out of class, she came behind and stopped me and was like, I noticed your name on the list, and I was just wondering if you're related. And I was like, No, I wasn't.

HANSEN: She says lately people have been asking her for tickets to the inauguration, some jokingly, some not. Well, ever since he won, it's like, Oh yeah, so when are you giving out those tickets for the inauguration and stuff like that. Or, when's our trip to the White House since you have connections now? And yeah, we're going to get into everything now that you know we're friends with you and stuff. It's very funny.

HANSEN: And Denise is getting more friend requests on Facebook.

Ms. DENISE OBAMA: This random guy from like Sweden Facebooks me and sent me a message. He's like, Oh, wow, you have the last name Obama. That must be really cool, you know.

HANSEN: As for Suzie, she's just happy Obama is a more prominent name in the news these days then Osama.

Ms. SUZIE OBAMA: Do you remember when it's Osama? I was treated so bad. You know, Osama, Obama, I don't know. You know, it's a different spelling. But I was treated like I was Osama.

HANSEN: Take heart, Suzie. There's a certain Obama from Chicago who has taken grief for his middle name, Hussein, which he shares with another infamous person in the news. But so far, the President-elect has managed to cope.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.