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The entire nation was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut last week. To know that a lone gunman could go into a school and murder 26 people is tragic beyond belief. It will take months of healing for the country and much longer for the families affected.
The following Sunday night President Obama attempted to start the healing process with an eloquent speech on, not just how devastating the tragedy was, but the heroes that emerged in the form of teachers and staff who tried to protect their students. Obama also reiterated how this was the fourth such gun tragedy to take place during his presidency and that we cannot continue to stand for this. While Obama stated his case for healing and solidarity, not everyone agreed.
Soon after Obama’s speech, reports surfaced about racist tweets directed at the President. People saying things like “get that n-word off my TV,” referring to Obama. Some were even dismayed that NBC would stop broadcasting Sunday Night Football to televise the speech.
I can’t say I’m necessarily surprised. Though we may be on the eve of 2013 and have a black president, that’s not to say racism is dead or that we are laughably a post-racial society. What Twitter has done is illuminate these racists attitudes still held by more than a few, into the public discourse where it becomes fodder for national conjecture. What’s saddening is that this disrespect of the President isn’t just limited to this tragedy or by a few random people on Twitter. From the infamous “You lie!” by a congressman during a televised speech in 2009, to Jan Brewer pointing her finger at the President while on a tarmac in 2011, these incidents have happened more than they should.
Ultimately, the healing continues for the people of Newtown. But as the days and weeks unfold, let’s hope we can all be a little more respectful -not just to the president- but to each other as well.
Warin Henry is a thinker, poet, blogger, and an aspiring film producer. He currently blogs about film and media in regards to people of color at filmswag.blogspot.com. He resides in New Jersey.