I can’t breathe…..
By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN
Mommy why are there separate water fountains?
Mommy why aren’t there any “colored” people in my school?
Mommy why are their houses so small?
It was the 1960’s. And all around me were symbols and movements and chaos and hate and love and conflict.
Mary, our maid, slept on our couch, and I told my mother she was sleeping. My mother said “Let her sleep.”
We were walking downtown and we heard the “N” word, and daddy pulled us aside and told us to never ever use that word.
Daddy gave a poor black man a $20 bill. He didn’t know him. But he did that just because.
I found out early what respect for each other meant. What love meant. What color blind meant. The great leaders spoke to us from our small black and white TV. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X. John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy. And one by one, I watched them gunned down.
Greatness gunned down.
I am sad. We have been giants in this Universe.
Our USA. And now we are all breadcrumbs.
Hate has replaced love.
My high school years in the 1970’s was a battleground. Blacks against whites. Riots through out the country in high schools. Smoke bombs. The National Guards. Integration. I didn’t understand.
I was taught to love one another. That we are all God’s children. And by our senior years we figured out that it was other people in our universe that attempted to instill hate in us. But we didn’t want to hate. We ended up going to football games and basketball games together and singing in the choir, and studying together and learning to heal from all of the previous hate. We became good friends and we embraced each other’s culture. And we flooded with tears when we graduated from high school. We created a strong bond that we wouldn’t allow anyone to break.
It is such a sad time again. We’ve spiraled out of control.
Anger. Racism. Fighting. Looting. Disrespect. Sadness. Destruction.
Where has our love gone?
When this life is over with, can you even say you led a good life?
Can you even say you were kind and gentle and caring to each other?
The visions run through my head.
They won’t escape.
A black man jogging gets shot down. A man with a possible alleged bad $20 bill gets tackled and shackled and thrown to the ground. And begs: “ I can’t breathe.” And cries to his mama.
Modern day lynching. It’s no different than watching that black man or woman hang from a tree. Dangling. With a large rope around their neck.
Or a large foot pressing down for 8 minutes and occluding a man’s carotid.
Where is our modern day Martin Luther King Jr? Where is our new Malcolm X. Where is our JFK and brother Robert Kennedy.
Please. Stop the racism.
Please. Stop the destruction and looting.
Please. Stop the killings.
We have just this one life to live.
Make it right.
Cause I can’t breathe anymore.