I in no way want to take away from the viciousness of 9/11/01. I in no way want to minimize the lives that were lost on that day. I in no way want to tarnish the lives lost, hard work given, and effort put forth from the women and men in the armed forces over the last decade. Still, there is something greater at work. An almost cinematic ending to what most Americans wanted the next day after the attacks on 9/11: blood. But what does this all mean? For many who are oppressed, marginalized, treated as outsiders, and overlooked by society in various ways, this day might not mean much.
I remember I was working as a Youth advocate for the organization Young Life at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The organization sent out a mass email and letter (they used paper in those days) stating that counselors were on standby if any areas needed them and that we should spend time debriefing this event with our kids. So, I took it seriously and set up the rest of the week to talk with kids about this event. But what I found out almost blew my mind. Almost every kid I spoke with was like, “Man, this is every day in our ‘hood… I feel for those people, but what makes my family members death any less important?” The same question is asked here too. The great documentary Crips & Bloods: Made In America stated the statistic that over 16,000 deaths a year are from just South Central Los Angeles, but there is no response from any governmental agency and workers in South Central who work for change have to compete over private funds. But what does that mean? Nothing to most people; they’re a bunch of barbaric animals who deserve to die—typical worldviews. I’ve even known some people to celebrate in that—“They’re better off dead anyways Dan.”
Thus, when I think about Bin Laden’s death, I take it with a grain of salt and know that in post 9/11 America, things are not what they seem. Lies, spin, and corporate jargon are what sell today.
In the Hip Hop world, some are contesting the authenticity of this story to begin with.
In a world that seems to be lopsided with its priorities—privatization of the prison industrial complex, disgraceful schools in the inner city, consumers looked at as cattle, human rights seen as a privilege not a right to corporations—I’m just not convinced that yelling “USA, USA, USA” on camera is the “right thing” to do. Moreover, how did you feel when you saw Middle Easterners doing the same thing (yelling their mantras) after the attacks on 9/11?
Yeah, I get that people are “united.” Yeah, I get that Obama has a political victory. I get that this gives some type of “hope” for America. I get all that.
Osama’s death marks a notch in the “war on terror,” but, I ask you, what terror are we fighting? Gas is close to $5 a gallon, the Gulf of Mexico is still in shambles, gas companies are posting record profits, racism continues to abound seeing ethnic minorities as outsiders (birth certificate anyone?), women still make about $13,000 less than men on average, and I still haven’t got a full time job with 4 degrees, 3 books, over 10 years of teaching experience, and references that are stellar…what are we fighting? What’s with all the damn celebration?