violence in any form.” Even sports figures spoke out against this. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall tweeted, “What kind of person celebrates death?” He later clarified his statement by saying, “During 9/11 we watched in horror as parts of the world celebrated death on our soil. Earlier this week, parts of the world watched us in horror celebrating a man's death.” he public in general also disapproved of these celebrations. Just over a week later, the Public Religion Research Institute released a survey that found that most Americans believe that it is “wrong to celebrate the death of another human being, no matter how bad that person was.” African Americans, like others, were outspokenly critical of the celebrations, but differed from white Americans in one key way. As Stacey Patton, writer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, pointed out, “[the] celebrations were mostly devoid of Black people.” She goes on to say, “There was no loud collective orgy of national pride and triumphalism in any other Black public squares across America.” atton feels that the African-American community’s “quiet response” is due to being a marginalized part of society. While still relieved and happy about the death of bin Laden, African Americans are cautious about its implications. They believe that bin Laden’s death will not necessarily mean significant improvements for them. Patton also considers that African Americans may have seen the President’s “coolness about the ordeal” and emulated him. But she goes on to point out that the quiet response was really not an African-American thing but was how most of the country reacted. as the African-American response very different than the rest of the country’s? It is true that there were thousands of people who gathered in the streets to cheer and celebrate. But this does not really reflect the attitude of the population as a whole. Tens—even hundreds— of thousands of celebrating people will make news, but there were hundreds of millions of Americans who did not celebrate like that. The African-American reaction immediately upon hearing the news of bin Laden’s death was not at all unlike the average American’s.
The Weeks That Followed The Announcement t’s clear that the immediate AfricanAmerican reaction was similar to most other Americans. The next few days and weeks demonstrated that Americans of every race were basically on the same page. Articles and polls suggested that people felt a little safer but did not believe bin Laden’s death meant the end to terrorism or America’s war on terrorism. And while people were proud and relieved by the news, they did not think that bin Laden’s death was important compared to the problems at home. verall, 54% of Americans felt safer with bin Laden dead, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll; but 62% felt there was likely to be an act of terrorism
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hese concerns were echoed by African Americans across the country. On the Cocoa Lounge message boards, user BronzeBlossom said, “the death of bin Laden does not do a thing to impact the crisis in my community... I still have to go out and take care of that, as do we all. Bin Laden is a side note (not quite a distraction) to the pressing issues of the day, as I see them.” User Safetyblitz agreed, saying, “I do not see this doing anything to affect the ‘war’ or our causes here at home.” heGrio interviewed African-American Muslims in Brooklyn, NY, and found that although there was some happiness at bin Laden’s death, there was much more indifference. Shakima Heath said, “I don’t believe bin Laden was the face
In this image released by the White House and digitally altered by the source to diffuse the paper in front of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, Sunday, May 1, 2011, in Washington
inside the U.S. within the next few weeks. Shawnice Williams, a social worker from Maryland who was interviewed by The AFRO-American newspaper, seemed to sum up this point of view: “Osama bin Laden's death has made al-Qaeda furious. Though I am very happy about this accomplishment, I think that al-Qaeda is going to retaliate in a greater way than America can possibly imagine.” In a similar vein, Maryland law student Morgan Thomas said, “The death of bin Laden does not mean much because terrorism is an ideology and you cannot kill an ideology.” he threat of terrorism, however, is overshadowed by domestic issues. The economy and unemployment still weigh heaviest on Americans. A recent Gallup poll found that 74% of Americans rated economic problems as the most important, with only 4% pointing to war or the fear of war. For African Americans, whose unemployment rate is almost double the national average, concerns are no differ-
of Islam. So, for me, life goes on as normal,” while Muhammed Conry said he “wasn’t overwhelmed by the news and remains skeptical of its significance.” Conry went on to say, “Actually, I thought he was dead already. In my mind, he’s like a Boogeyman.” But an anonymous commenter had the most telling remarks: “America has a lot of more serious problems like what these guys on Wall Street are doing, you know, that are looting and pillaging this country. They’re more of a threat to this country than bin Laden, dead or alive, could ever be.” oncerns about the economy were not limited to comments on message boards or by average African Americans interviewed in the street. Comments were also made by the community’s leadership. The Rev. Al Sharpton, who praised President Obama for “the tremendous feat” of making the call to have bin Laden killed, was very outspoken about where the priorities should be now. Sharpton, speaking for not only many African