We Can't Breathe.

Updated: May 30

I can’t breathe.

The words of George Floyd echo those of Eric Garner. They also echo those of Black indigenous people of color across the U.S. as we watch in horror as African Americans are gunned down by vigilantes in Georgia and murdered without cause as they peacefully resided in their homes in Louisville, Kentucky.

I can’t breathe.

Add to this the daily burden of living in poverty-stricken neighborhoods because of segregation policies and practices sanctioned by the U.S. government and enforced by state and local regulations. I can’t breathe. Add to this the environmental pollution and lead poisoning in the water supply that furnishes these communities. I can’t breathe. Add to this the predatory marketing of tobacco products to these same communities to addict them to mentholated tobacco products causing emphysema, lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases.

I can’t breathe.

Add to this a judicial and educational system that targets young African American males and places them in a never-ending, for-profit pipeline of modern-day slavery instead of rehabilitation. I can’t breathe. Add to this disadvantaged communities forced to work and serve for less than a livable minimum wage. I can’t breathe. Add to this the lack of quality and affordable health care and a culturally sensitive health care system to care for this community as it is disproportionately burdened by chronic diseases. I can’t breathe. Add to this COVID-19.

I. Can’t. Breathe.

We have more than enough to deal with as we battle COVID-19. We don’t need brazen displays of institutional and personal racism. We will deal with police violence just as we must deal with a pandemic. Yes, we are hurt, and, yes, we are mad. But as we stand for justice, we will not be distracted. We will remain vigilant against COVID-19 for our elders, for our children, for our future.

Take your knees off of our necks. We can’t breathe.

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