"I CAN'T BREATHE!" These were the last words that Eric Garner gasped as an evil police officer choked the life out of him. Those of us who have seen the video recognize it as both a dying mans plea for his life and a three word affirmation of what it means for the majority of us to be black in America.
Recently these words have become a slogan worn and displayed by celebrities and athletes as a show of solidarity and support for those who are protesting the Grand Jury decision not to indict the officer who murdered Eric. But as Black people in America how can any of us really breathe? Being black in America means that the things that others take for granted, like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not guaranteed but subject to change on a whim. How can we breathe knowing that our lives can be taken just for being what God made us, and nothing more? How can we breathe knowing that our right to exercise our rights can be deemed null and void by whoever decides he is superior enough to make that decision on that day?
Each and every journey out into the world is one in which we inhale before we open our doors and exhale with exhausting, exuberant sighs of relief for having survived our black adventure once we return home, because we know that many before us have ventured out on routine and have never come back. Living a life in which you can only be a contrived version of yourself to the world as opposed to who you really are, is a job. Not a profession. It's an intense struggle to live, to survive, and maintain.
"I CAN'T BREATHE."