As the fires rage across this nation revealing blatant evidence of the charred husk of ideologies that have marked inequality, social injustice, and racial disparities – exposing generations of genocide wrought on African Americans – I hear and see three words of desperation repeated by this nation: I Can’t Breathe.

In three words George Floyd has voiced our collective mindset as Black People. I Can’t Breathe, whether from the knee on our neck, the ills of poverty, mass incarceration, or drowning in self-hatred. Those three words as a petition, a cry of anguish and desperation, have touched the hearts of millions and they respond in kind. I Can’t Breathe.

We seek deliverance from the tyranny of systematic racism, from poverty, and from Neocolonialism. Those three desperate last words of this man have given us courage to build a foundation of change to stand upon. I Can’t Breathe. Desperate words, the words of the forgotten, forsaken, downtrodden, and those living in submission.

I plead now that you, America, BREATHE FOR THEM, for George Floyd and Emmit Till. BREATHE FOR THEM, for Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin. For Martin, Malcom, and Mandela, BREATHE FOR THEM.  Breathe so that we can leave a worthy legacy for those coming after us.

As the fires of this nation dwindle to the embers of stability, we must breathe in the unity displayed while the nation screamed of the injustices for blacks.  Breathe in faith that together we maintain the process of understanding, faith that we can build a just society. BREATHE FOR THEM, for all who have died enslaved by ancient ideologies, victims of genocide. 

BREATHE FOR THEM, for those who have sought freedom for themselves and our children.  BREATHE FOR THEM so that their deaths will not be in vain. Lord knows if we breathe in the love God has demanded of us, we can dispel this ignorant hate. 

Let us forever remember those three words of despair, dying on those innocent lips – I Can’t Breathe – while we as a people, as a nation learn to breathe. Yes, BREATHE FOR THEM.

James Enoch Banks
June 14, 2020

Image by Life Matters