I apologize off the bat for the Depeche Mode reference, but the song has been in my head for the last 22 hours as I try to comprehend the events of the last week. And, by the time I finish this post, it may have a dual meaning. Anyway, first off, President Obama reveals his long form birth certificate, then ridicules Donald Trump and the media (as well as his own actions) several days later at the White House Correspondent's dinner, and then makes a special announcement about the murder of Osama bin Laden by U.S. Navy Seals the next day. That's a big, WTF just happened, I'd say, wouldn't you? And, as I write, I think he just finished his interview on Oprah. Damn, that's quite a week.
On the one hand, it's difficult to describe the feeling of watching the most powerful man in the nation, some say in the world, and the only African American to be elected president having to, effectively, show his papers. That doesn't bode well for existing (unconstitutional and unethical) laws in several states that seek to monitor brown bodies. And, the fact that he did it, is worse. Well, arguably, given that he was simultaneously planning an attack on bin Laden, maybe not? Dude. But, that's a little bit like President Obama, isn't it? "Okay, I'll concede on the budget and let you take away everything I campaigned for and everything that ensures the health and well-being of people in the U.S." and then, BAM! (as Alexis Mateo says), DADT is repealed. I know it didn't quite happen like that and I don't care two cents about DADT and it's nothing compared to losing Head Start, Pell Grants, or not having universal health care, but he does tend to work that way. "Oh, you want me to show my papers? Sure thing, and by the way, here's bin Laden's death certificate. BAM!" Work it out. I'm doing what the Bushes wouldn't do. Holla.
But, I can't really say that I'm jazzed about it. I made some comments on twitter last night and I've been following other blogposts about it and, of course, Facebook and I just don't feel any different. I don't feel any better now that Osama bin Laden is dead. I don't feel like it pays for the death of hundreds of thousands in the U.S., Iraq, and Afghanistan since 9/11/01. And I don't think it makes Barack Obama a stronger president. It just adds to the death. Look, I know he did terrible, terrible things and admitted to the attacks on the world trade center, but it doesn't change the fact that thousands upon thousands are dead. And, this does nothing to bring any of those precious people that died in the towers, on planes, or in Iraq, back. Not to mention the ongoing assault on transwomen, Black women, poor people, prisoners, workers, and immigrants, just to name a few. Yeah, lots of things happened last week (and I do know that the link for Black women and transwomen is the same above, and while I abhor the actions of the two young women, who were Black, Maureen Dowd--whose piece is problematic at best--referred to them as 'the savage pair,' which is another post).
More importantly, like others, I find it doubly upsetting that people were dancing in the streets after news broke of bin Laden's death. The mostly (or is it safe to say all?) white crowd walking arm in arm as republicans and democrats and chanting "USA." Sorry, but I'm a queer Black woman in this land of the free, so these kinds of gatherings scare me more than retaliation attacks, even if they are cheering for a Black man (I mean seriously, that guy in the picture is hanging from a tree in a suit). Really, just a few days ago, I'm sure there were people standing outside saying "Obama" and "USA" in the same sentence, but demanding proof of citizenship. This is a strange, fickle country we live in. And, I don't trust "the optimistic eyes" in this moment of false hope, frenzied celebration, and victorious death. Less than a hundred years ago in this country, this kind of public gathering, this kind of chanting and celebration connected to a Black man and death would have had an entirely different meaning.
So, I can't celebrate with you all. The temporality between these two (more, really) realities is in my veins, so I won't celebrate. Unless, in the words of a 1980s new wave band, it's "a black celebration to celebrate the fact that we've seen the back of another black day."