*This was the haunting phrase that was one of the last, gasped out by George Floyd as Officer Derek Chauvin publicly executed George Floyd as he drove his knee into the neck of an unarmed, completely cooperative George Floyd for 8+ minutes in broad Memorial Day daylight in Minneapolis. The same phrase uttered by Eric Gardner in 2014 in a busy NYC burrough minutes before he was murdered by officer Daniel Pantaleo (and his equally guilty counterparts) as he was put into a chokehold that ended his life. Another unarmed Black man murdered by police on the grounds of being Black.
Throughout this pandemic, through lockdown, quarantine and the like. I’ve found my solace in music, movies, movement, spending this time with my family, spreading and absorbing knowledge, and writing. Writing stories, writing down the plethora of things for which I’m grateful, journal entries, to do lists etc. But recently, it’s been pretty tough to get my words to a page. I Can’t Breathe.
We are going through A LOT right now. And it becomes increasingly difficult to keep abreast of every development. I find myself navigating this space between rage, despair and numbness. How do you even process all the shit that continues happening to US! The genocide of the Black community isn’t a new topic in any sense of the word, and to see it play out EVERYDAY on social media is one thing - but to experience this trauma on a daily basis is physically painful. Is it weird/selfish of me to express gratitude for the fact that my personal experience of this trauma has been through a screen? Or the written words of a page? I Can’t Breathe.
I extend my love and light to all my people, who feel this collective pain and trauma as we continue to lose family every day in the senseless killings orchestrated by the fucked up system on which this country was built and continues to capitalize. I extend my love and light to the friends and families directly affected by the continued assassinations of their loved ones. And I send all my love and light to the fallen angels, may you Rest in Peace – George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Eric Gardner, Alton Sterling, Mike Brown, Jordan Edwards, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin…just to name a few that immediately pop into my head. This list doesn’t even put a dent in the countless lives lost to the War on Black Bodies. Black Lives Matter - Your lives mattered and continue to matter. You deserve to be alive and well. I love you. Your extraordinary sacrifice will not be made in vain. You will help change the trajectory of this nation.
I grapple with so many emotions, thoughts and feelings and yet, I’m still speechless. What do I even begin to address? Saying police brutality “needs to stop” isn’t enough anymore. Saying racism is real and very much alive and needs to die…certainly isn’t enough. Saying the orange piece of shit’s shit taking up space and air in the White House is a fucking disgrace and needs to go wither away is not enough. Saying this system was not built for our triumphs, but is instead the exact opposite, a tool designed to keep us “inferior” to detriment us to strip us of all the aspects of living a quality and equitable life is not enough. We ALL know these things. And being locked down in a pandemic is really making us face these facts. I Can’t Breathe.
So now that we’re here…what do we do? I can’t stand this feeling of helplessness and I want to take action. The time to fight back is upon us and we need to organize.
I feel like a lot of the narrative, especially driven by social media is being watered down oddly enough. It seems there’s been a shift in focus to the silence of our non-black counterparts. And honestly, I’m so tired of this shit. 1 - In this situation, just like every other situation, I have never felt the need to look at my white/non-black counterparts for justification that this is actually an issue. Maybe it’s because I’ve effectively surrounded myself with people that would never question that. Yes, I believe that we can create change together, but the ones who will be making that change with us are not only vocal, but are taking action – not for clout, not for likes, but because they, too are moving toward creating the change with us. And for everyone else, we know damn well where they stand: profiting off of us, emulating our style, our rich and versatile hues, our soul, and our identity when it’s convenient. Why are we now acting surprised? 2 – A lot of the people I see posting* about this topic aren’t even addressing it themselves, aside from a soundbite, or a quote they googled, or someone else’s words and that mentality needs to shift. We need to create the change we want to see. We, collectively. And we won’t be able to do that fully behind a screen. Merely posting a picture of our fallen angels and soldiers with a hashtag won’t ignite the changes we so desperately need to see - it's a step in sharing information, indeed. But there's a difference between posting for a trend and taking steps toward action. It is past time to take action. The revolution will not be televised. We won’t be able to do that with the sheep-like mentality this country forces upon us. I Can’t Breathe.
This whole trend of “Retweeting” and riding on someone else’s coattails to muster a “subjective” thought also contributes to this cycle of experiencing/witnessing injustice, feeling outrage, then getting caught up in the next new trend! (Oh, and shout out to all the popular social media outlets that continue to censor us in attempts to mute/silence us, our power and our reach…they know our enormous capacity to influence- they certainly wouldn’t want social change to be a product of that influence amirite?) If you can’t already tell, I’m struggling with social media right now. To continue watching all this shit unfold, to actually witness murder after murder after murder after injustice after murder after conversation surrounding the murder and injustice is physically painful and taxing in so many ways, but to add to that the nuances of this country’s flawed mindset and overall disposition toward us, what we give attention to, the shallowness, the idiocy, the hatred and the replaying of the pain and trauma is too much! I Can’t Breathe.
Initially, I kept chastising myself for stepping away from it all to just breathe and be for a moment – because I feel guilty being able do just that…Breathe. My brothers and sisters who’ve died at the hands of racists for being BLACK no longer have that luxury. And it is my duty as a Black woman, as a healer, as a descendant of a higher plane, as a forever student of life, and a soon to be doctor to serve in whichever way I can – spreading love, light, knowledge, advocacy and wellness to anyone who will receive it – to anyone I can touch. To aid in enacting the social changes we need to elevate ourselves, elevate our community and create a reality we want to experience. I Will Breathe. For EVERYONE we’ve lost to senseless murder, injustice and genocide. For them. For our ancestors. For us. I will breathe.
But to do that, especially now with the Coronavirus pandemic still hot on our tail, I know how important my self-care is. How important our self-care is in protecting ourselves and elevating ourselves. And we need to enter this next phase with the utmost protection. A war is upon us. And our outrage is more than precedented. I stand with all my brothers and sisters who continue to protest and I will continue to manifest our protection as we continue to navigate the bullshit that is our reality. We need to breathe. That in itself is an act of revolution.
I can feel a shift coming. I truly believe everything happens for a reason – we’re reaching a breaking point and our fight for justice will continue to amplify by any means necessary. It’s about time we get on the same page and mentally prepare. It’s about time we determine some actionable steps to enact throughout the nation. It’s time to mobilize. And until we receive our marching orders, here’s a few things we can do:
Visit JusticeforBigFloyd.com – Sign the petition and call 612-324-4499 to demand justice for George Floyd and hold ALL officers involved in the murder of George Floyd accountable.
Visit StandWithBre.com - Sign the petition and call 502-735-1784 to demand that the Public Integrity Unit of the Louisville Metro Police fire and charge the officers involved for the murder of Breonna Taylor.
Visit RunWithMaud.com - Sign the petition and call 770-800-0689 to demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery. His killers, Gregory Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan have yet to be convicted and another active participant in his murder, Robert Rash, still roams free. Let’s demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery.
Take a few minutes to breathe. Check in with you and honor every one of your emotions, acknowledge each one of your thoughts. Inhale...Now exhale and let it go. Release any tension that you can. Block whatever negative energies you can. And please, try to breathe.
I love you.