How We Talked To Our Children About Osama Bin Laden’s Death

The news was shocking to Nick and I, but the conversation about it with our girls, ages 8 and 11, was easy enough. It went something like this: Osama Bin Laden was killed last night by the American military. President Obama is the man for finding him. We’re sorry that a life was taken, but if anyone deserved to pay for the terror attack and mass murder committed on September 11, 2001, it was certainly Osama. But we will NOT be hootin’ and hollerin’ and jumping up in trees and waving flags and whatnot like a bunch of lunatics, talmbout, “we’re celebrating!” That’s tacky. Disgusting. And so not our style.

Though Lila was but a gleam in her daddy’s eye and Mari was only two, my girls are well aware of the events that occurred on that fateful day because, as New Yorkers, we’d suck if we didn’t tell our daughters the profound impact September 11th had on us, our neighborhood, our friends, our hometown. But we’ve always approached these conversations not with anger, but with a profound understanding that it is our duty as reasonable people, as thinking, conscious black folk, indeed, as Americans, to embrace differences, practice tolerance and always demand of ourselves respect for the freedom of expression and ideas and thought of others, even if they do not jibe with our own.

And that respect does not involve celebrating anyone’s death. Not even Osama Bin Laden’s. I mean, we understand that the man is the epitome of pure evil and a certain amount of jubilation can be expected. But celebrating like your team just won the Super Bowl? When it took two wars, countless casualties of American troops and innocent civilians, and the complete collapse and bankrupting of practically our entire financial system, which led to massive unemployment, home foreclosures, and poverty in our country? Um, absolutely not.

So while Bush-era Republicans rush to try to steal credit for Bin Laden’s capture (um, shut the hell up and go sit down somewhere, Cheney) and Democrats start whipping up those “Re-elect the Guy Who Captured the Terrorist Bush Couldn’t Find If He Had An Address and a Garmin,” my family is praying that the much more sensible President Obama will dispense of all of this rah-rah business and focus on some dire, pressing issues here on our own soil. Like, right now. If anyone needs clues to what I’m talking about, press “play” and listen real good to this, the live version of Dwele’s “My People.” I think I might make this the new MyBrownBaby anthem. Word.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Thank you so much for this post! I am a Navy veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and I have many friends still in the service. While I am extremely relieved that the bastard is finally dead, I find all the celebrating to be tacky. There’s even a song out called “Osama is dead”. I mean, really? That is way too much. This murderer has finally been brought to justice, and now it’s time to move on to other issues.

  2. Well said. I live in Dallas area and their was so much local news coverage on the folks who went out and celebrated in front of Bush’s house. Celebrating death…seriously?

  3. Thank you so, so much for this post.

  4. You’re so awesome! Thank you for speaking what I was thinking.

  5. I agree. I wouldn’t celebrate his death no more than I would his life. Cultures around the world have mores about how the dead should be treated, and generally, there is an expectation of respect and dignity. At the end of the day, he was someone’s husband, father, grandfather, etc.

  6. Very, very true. The kind of behavior that was, and still is, on display does nothing for the relations of our world.

  7. It’s all there to confuse people like you and I and right now these posts prove this confusion. That’s not to say that what you have written isn’t noble, infact it is certainly noble but that’s what is in our hearts. it’s not in the hearts of the governments. Governments do NOT care about you and I but people will believe they do because they removed an apparent threat. A threat thta NO-ONE knew about until it was the right time to take a country over. We only need to read the history books to realise that Britain and the U.S. (our country) go into foregn places to take over but not without a reason !!

    So I personally will celebrate when Obama removes our soldiers because lets face it, the threats be REMOVED? mmm !!! I don’t think so because noe the U.S is in their required foreign land and they’re going to keep it while we all celebrate apparent freedom!!!

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