Americans, but many Americans in general, said, “when Americans are still suffering from a stagnant economy, a lack of affordable housing, unequal access to adequate education, scarcity in jobs and an overall sense of hopelessness, we must begin to place the focus back here at home.” Sharpton went on to suggest that the best thing would be “that the U.S. brings its troops home from Afghanistan and uses the money that would otherwise be spent on the war to create jobs, fix health care, and provide education.” President Obama harpton’s positive view of President Obama after bin Laden’s death seems to mirror the polls. The AfricanAmerican community already had a very favorable view of the President, with 67% believing they were better off under Obama. This view differed from the country’s overall, where only 35% believed they were better off. The death of bin Laden seemed to improve Obama’s image with everyone. The President’s approval rating went up slightly from the week before bin Laden’s death to the week after, rising from 44% to 51% among Americans overall and from 83% to 86% among African Americans. oon after bin Laden’s death, a BlackPlanet/NewsOne poll found that just over half of African Americans believed this event would give President Obama a boost in the coming 2012 presidential election. Certainly, this would be good news to African Americans. But cracks are forming in the foundation of Obama’s African American support. Even though support seems strong according to the numbers, there are several outspoken voices which suggest otherwise. Princeton University professor and scholar Cornel West has said that Obama is “no longer working in the best interests of African-Americans, but is instead protecting the interests of the financial sector.” This echoes the concerns of that anonymous commenter in TheGrio’s Brooklyn interviews. Furthermore, talk show host Tavis Smiley said that the President’s “base in Black America is shaky,” a fact about which Smiley believes Obama is aware. resident Obama’s polling numbers are strong after the announcement of the death of bin Laden, especially among African Americans. American voters are fickle, though, and a boost from this event will not necessarily be enough to carry
Obama for the year and a half until the election. This is especially true considering that Americans, including African Americans, do not consider bin Laden’s death to be that significant of an event. Summing Up t first glance it would have seemed to be a momentous event. Almost immediately upon hearing Obama’s announcement that bin Laden had been killed, there were news reports and videos of people dancing in the streets around the country. Osama bin Laden had been the face of the country’s enemy for almost ten years, mocking the US from his hidden location somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan. But now that he was dead it was like a weight had been lifted from the nation. closer look, however, shows that while Americans were happy about the news, celebrations did not truly reflect the country as a whole—and definitely did not reflect the reactions of African Americans. Even the African Americans who cheered did so privately, and did not necessarily cheer to celebrate bin Laden’s death. Clarence Page wrote, “I don’t celebrate his death, although it is tempting. Instead, I celebrate the justice, however belated, that his death brings to his victims. It honors their memories for us to know that bin Laden could run, but not hide forever.” ut, indeed, many African Americans chose not to celebrate at all. Kevin Powell, African-American activist and author, said, “No matter how evil someone or their actions may be, I just cannot celebrate violence in any form.” And Safetyblitz, in the Cocoa Lounge message boards, said, “However heinous he was or [the] deaths he may have contributed to [were], he was still a human and the whole situation is sad for him, us, and his family.” frican Americans did not have drastically different responses than Americans in general—not immediately following the announcement nor in the weeks to come. They were happy and relieved that a terrorist leader was dead, somewhat concerned about the threat of retaliation to come, but mostly they were just ready to move on. To African Americans everywhere, Osama bin Laden in death was no more or less than he was in life: a “bogeyman.” With the economy still hurting and unemployment still very high, African Americans have much bigger issues to concern themselves with.
WANTED MAGAZINE • NOVEMBER, 2011