I Can’t Breathe

Still trying to wrap my head around what is currently happening across the world in riots and protests. For some, maybe it is easy to remain in your bubble and ignore the outside noise, but for many – that is clearly not the case. 2020 has already been overshadowed by death and loss, but while we see those two things often, not many often see hate on a daily basis and in our everyday lives. I am one of those people.

And that is also known as white privilege.

I could choose to sit in my own, white bubble, or I can choose to support others by acknowledging racism and this shadow that has been upon our country for decades upon decades. Racism is not a new phenomenon. But just 30 years ago, it was not as visible. Technology has changed the way we see the world and the influx of information coming at us all of the time has helped in making others more aware of the hardships they may not have to endure.

When I learned of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his speeches and eventual assassination, it was like a needle going into my heart.

When I learned about the sit-ins at Woolworth’s and how a peaceful protest turned violent, it felt like I got punched in the gut. And I wish I could have joined them.

When I learned about Rosa Parks and how she had to make a stand just to sit where she wanted on a bus, my heart ached. And I wish I could have offered her a seat next to me.

When I learned about and saw photos of the Little Rock 9 who had to be escorted to and from school, I pondered what it would be like to be in that situation just to get an education.

When I learned of the words and actions of Harriet Tubman, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and the Freedom Riders I feel the dire need for justice, peace and equality for all and spurred to take action.

When I learned more about the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and saw the violence caught on video cameras from helicopters, I almost couldn’t breathe and wanted to turn it off, but I didn’t.

When I learned of George Floyd’s arrest and heard him say “I can’t breathe” and saw the white cop sitting with his knee on George’s neck which eventually killed him – I was horrified, and then angry.

Most of these people were before my time, but George Floyd is NOW. So was Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many more that have been unjustly killed because of their skin color.

We cannot wish away racism.

While there have been significant milestones of progression and equality in the last 100 years, it is still not enough.

It is STILL not enough.

And as I write this, my gut has continued to twist and knot up and my heart literally hurts. I have been reading and watching a lot of what people are saying online and how to support in this moment.

One of the worst things you could do right now is stay silent or unknowing.

Silence and ignorance is what gives strength to the injustice. And while rage or violence or looting is definitely not the answer, this is what comes with an uprising. We have technology now to show injustice, learn about it, give support and speak up.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that my silence can be deafening. I also know that many white people may feel that if they speak up, maybe they will sound stupid or ignorant or insensitive (and I was one of them). But what is most important is to educate yourself if you feel you don’t understand. I know that white privilege can be confusing, if only because you don’t identify with being racially profiled and you know that you aren’t racist. You feel that just not being racist is support enough. But if you don’t speak up in some way that you support and want equality for all, you won’t be telling your racist cousin in the south that you won’t stand for their jeering and bullying of black people. Or your family in the Midwest that are paranoid of a person of color coming into their small white town might see that they were unjust in their judgment of someone they didn’t know. Or, regardless of where you live, your own family might disagree with you marrying someone with a different skin color, will begin to see and know that color does not define the person you’ve come to love.

We are continuing to work off generations of oppression and need the help to continue this movement and move our society forward on a path of love, rather than hate and a complex white web of social and political agendas. We are all human, and underneath that thin layer of colored skin, we are all the same and we are all deserving of kindness, equality and justice.

“It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody!” ~ Malcolm X


Minnesota Freedom Fund has received over $20 million in donations and is now encouraging spreading donations to other efforts, so a few are listed below:

Reclaim the Block


Black Visions Collective

Featured Image from here.

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