On September 25, amateur video of a violent Chicago brawl between young Americans spread throughout the nation. On that video, one of these young people lost his life. His name was Derrion Albert. He was 16 years old.
During the same week that Chicago buried Albert, President Obama lobbied on behalf of that city in hopes that it would become the home of the 2016 Olympics. Had he been successful, thousands of the world’s athletes would have competed for gold on the streets where Albert lost his life – and his chance to earn a high school diploma.
With the pride that the president and first lady tout about their hometown, America has yet to hear a word from either of them about Albert’s death. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had said Obama was preparing to address the issue, but nearly two weeks and a funeral later, nothing has been said.
The window is swiftly closing and questions about Obama’s silence continue to rise.
Some would argue that the president is busy fixing the economy, restructuring healthcare and managing a war with escalating death tolls. But earlier this month, as Obama rushed onto Air Force One to address the IOC on behalf of Chicago, his priorities seemed out of place.
As a Millennial who voted for Obama with the other 66 percent of my age group, I am disappointed by his delay in acknowledging Albert’s death. With the communications tools the Obama administration uses to build relationships with young Americans, his silence on this issue has been confusing.
If the president had taped a two-minute YouTube video, highlighting the lessons we all know exist within this tragedy, it would have been enough.
And as a 24-year-old living in Charlotte, where last month a pregnant teen and her unborn child were murdered while she waited for a school bus, I saw myself in Derrion Albert. It is likely many Millennials saw themselves in Albert.
It is also likely that Albert saw himself in the Obamas, as so many young Americans do. But the first family’s silence on this young man’s death causes one to question if they have yet to see the same in him.
Editor’s Note: Next week, Johnson C. Smith University assistant professor of political science Joseph L. Jones, Ph.D., offers another take on the Derrion Albert murder.