If I Can Breathe
I did not choose to be a white man, but I do choose to understand what that means. To feel the discomfort and risk. To step into the spaces that I have to step into in order to fight for our Black Brothers and Sisters.
I can choose to use my voice to speak and protest and yell and as Janelle Monet has urged to START the speaking and protesting and yelling about the murder and injustice that continues to happen to our Black Brothers and Sisters.
“A black man, Benjamin Banneker, who taught himself mathematics and astronomy, predicted accurately a solar eclipse, and was appointed to plan the new city of Washington, wrote to Thomas Jefferson: I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings, who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world; that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt; and that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments. . . . I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevails with respect to us; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all; and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same facilities. . . . Banneker asked Jefferson “to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed.” — 1791
― Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present
Benjamin Banneker — 1791
Gordon of Louisiana — 1863
Dooley Moorton and Bert Moore — 1935
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade — 2020
229 years (and it goes back further than that ) of American protest, slavery, and murder. 8 names of thousands and thousands of names that should be spoken out-loud, that should never have had to be spoken out-loud the way they must now.
“The system isn’t broken. It was built this way.”
White people can’t just be better, we have to change.
The Police force in this country can’t just be better, it has to change.
The politicians who prolong prejudice with the stroke of their pens can’t just be better, they have to change.
I can keep this article as a draft, and add more photos of our Black Brothers and Sisters being murdered as the days go on. I know that even today, there are photos that could be added tomorrow.
To my family, my Black Brothers and Sisters, I love you. I am with you. Your Black Lives Matter to me.
I am here as a white man to say I know the weight of tears, and blood, and hatred, and murder my skin color carries. May I use that weight to stand with you, to yell with you, to embrace with you. To walk with you, fight with you, speak with you.
To fight for a justice and reform in a system built against you.
Justice for Benjamin Banneker.
Justice for Gordon of Louisiana.
Justice for Dooley Moorton and Bert Moore.
Justice for Ahmaud.
Justice for Breonna.
Justice for Tony.
Justice for George.