It is hard to believe that the 10 year anniversary is here for the events of 9/11. I can remember the day clearly because I was still living in NYC at the time and was working in midtown. For those that lived in NYC, the tragedy was traumatic, whether you knew someone that lost their life or not. We were faced with the horrific events that transpired that day as well as the urgency and fear to get back home to our families. For days many were glued to the news to get updates and fearful to travel around the city. It was an event that effected us ALL.
For the past ten years, I have been disappointed with the media coverage of the victims and families affected. There seem to be pieces of the puzzle missing: ethnic families, Muslim families and the children that lost parents who were civilians. So why does the media only display 9/11 from the view of white Americans? Are their lives deemed more valuable than other ethnic groups? 75% of those killed were white and male. 8% were Black, 9% were Hispanic and 6% were Asian. Small percentages, but are comprised of people that left behind friends and family just the same. I can count on one hand how many times I have personally seen ethnic families interviewed on the various news channels these past ten years.
On the other hand I have never seen a Muslim family interviewed on the news that lost a loved one. My research found that only 1% of the victims killed were Muslim. I personally believe that there are probably more. These families not only had to work through the loss of a loved one, but they also had to deal with increased prejudice and lack of compassion from fellow Americans because the person accused of committing the act was Muslim. Once the proposal to have a mosque built in lower Manhattan was presented, these Muslim families were once again shown prejudice because committee members did not deem it an inappropriate thing to do.
America is supposed to be a melting pot right….full of varied cultures and religions? No matter what new strides are made, the powers that be will always show their true colors and let the world know who is valued. 12% of those killed were firefighters and paramedics. 8% were NYPD officers and 1.3% were Port Authority officers. Combined that is a little over 20% of the total victims. These individuals risked their lives to try and save others. They took on jobs that held high mortality risk. Are their lives valuable? Yes. Are the losses that their families and children suffer sad and unfortunate? Yes. BUT, my heart goes out to those that lost a loved one who simply was going to their normal job. The estimated dollar amount raised for families that lost loved ones who were in the NYPD and FDNY was $500 million!!! This is 24% of the total charity raised for 9/11. So out of the 75% of charity funds left, how much went to the children and spouses of civilians that lost their lives? The average benefit received by each FDNY and NYPD widow was $1 million. Am I saying that these families do not need support? Absolutely not, but the media coverage of everything from charitable donations to summer camps for the children are almost always for those families of the Fire and Police departments. These families prepare for the possibility of loss of life on the job. Life insurance is secured, savings plans set, etc… What risk did the family of the secretary, facilities worker, file clerk or manager think they would face doing their jobs everyday? How many civilians that died thought “today might be my last day seeing my family”? There has not been any balance shown in the media.
So, on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, I pray that the families of the civilians lost have found peace in their lives and that their children’s present and future needs are a concern of the federal and local government along with the charity committee members as well.
Beveridge, A. (2011). 9/11/01-02: A Demographic Portrait Of The Victims In 10048. http://www.gothamgazette.com. Retrieved from http://www.gothamgazette.com/demographics/91102.shtml
Huda. (2011). Muslim Victims of 9/11 Attack. http://www.about.com Retrieved from http://islam.about.com/od/terrorism/a/Muslim-Victims-Of-9-11-Attack.htm
September 11th by the numbers. (2011). http://www.nymag.com. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/news/articles/wtc/1year/numbers.htm