"I Can't Breathe"

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

It's the phrase that rocked the world.

And it's still shaking things up.

People everywhere are joining together to protest social injustice against black people following the murder of a black man in the street by a white officer and his 3 accomplices.

The man is George Floyd. Many of the protests in his honor have demanded that people "say his name". And while you're at it, say the names of the other black people who were victims of senseless killings. To name a few; Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile.

On Monday May 25th, 2020, 46-year old George Floyd was forced to the ground by officers. Once down, 2 of the officers pressed down on his back and legs while a 3rd pressed his knee into his neck for a confirmed 8 minutes and 46 seconds while George Floyd struggled for air.

He called out, "I can't breathe!" he begged, "please!"

And though I didn't hear this for myself, I'm told he called out for his mother.

In the video, the onlookers are heard begging for mercy for this man. They urged the officer to ease up. They shouted that Mr. Floyd was suffering and being suffocated. One of the things I remember hearing the officer say is, "He can breathe, he's talking".

And he held his knee there.

The other aspect of this video that will forever be engrained in my head is the smug look on this cop's face. Thinking about it now, I'm disgusted.

He glared at on-lookers with such a superior, self-righteous expression on his face. It was obvious he was feeling his power at that moment. Cameras rolling or not, this cop felt untouchable and in full control and he loved every minute of it.

Despite hearing this man cry out for relief and the crowd begging on his behalf, the cop was unrelenting. Proud to be able to press down on this suffering man to inflict as much pain as he could to show him and the crowd who was boss.

The look on his face...

I really don't believe this cop intended to kill George Floyd. I'm sure he just thought he would teach him a lesson and let the people see how tough he was. But he lost himself and in his cockiness and abuse of power, he pressed his knee into this man's neck for nearly 9 minutes.

Unbothered, uncaring, and unmoved.

He killed George Floyd.

At the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight, on a busy street, by a police officer.

In the coming days the city of Minneapolis was turned upside down.

While the video of this horrific act went viral, the people went mad.

The cops involved went home and the community went off.

The cop responsible for the killing was arrested on Monday May 29th and finally charged with second-degree murder. I can't say I agree with the rioting and looting and burning down of property, but I can say I understand it. And it causes me to ask the question; had these violent actions not taken place, would this officer have been arrested and charged?

I want to believe that justice would have prevailed but I doubt it.

In the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, it took more than 2 months for the white father and son involved to be arrested. They shot a black man in the street on February 23rd and went back home like nothing ever happened. They were back to their normal lives for a good 60 plus days, watching TV, eating, and going about their business, with no accountability taken, for 10 weeks. The video of the shooting was released on May 5th and it wasn't until there was outrage from the public on May 6th and 7th that law enforcement took these murderers into custody on May 7th.

For me the problem is not just that these crazy things happen, because crazy things happen. It's that nothing is done about them. The offending parties are not made to answer for their actions.We all know if these were 2 black men shooting and killing a white man in cold-blood, they wouldn't have stood a chance. But in this situation, someone came and carted off Mr. Arbery's bloody, bullet-laden body and there was no investigation!??

In what world does this happen? Apparently ours.

In what world is this ok? Not ours, anymore.

People are mad and rightly so.

The Black Lives Matter movement, started in July 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in February of 2012. The movement originated from within the black community and it campaigns against violence and systematic racism towards black people.

According to Wikipedia:

Black Lives Matter regularly holds protests speaking out against police brutality and police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

The phrase has taken off again in the face of these new injustices. When peoples' quick retort is "all lives matter" it's obvious that they don't get it. For a vast majority of us, all lives do matter. But for a select few, this concept is foreign. They don't seem to understand that black lives are just as important as theirs and they need to be told. All lives aren't under attack. But here, right now, black lives are.

Reminding people that black lives matter doesn't take away from the value or worth of anyone else's life, it just serves as confirmation to bigots or supremacists of any demographic that black people are not beneath them.

If people continue to forget this, then they need to continue to be reminded.

I've remained silent for the most part while I scrolled through Instagram and Facebook, screenshotting my favorite picket signs and memes and while I watched news report after news report on the events unraveling before us. I complained at home and vented my frustration as a Christian black woman who silently supports the people demanding change.

But in my heart of hearts I know there will be little change if any. People will still feel the way they feel, they'll just do a better job of hiding it. Without the attacks on Floyd and Arbery being video taped and broadcasted, these incidents would have easily been swept under the rug as so many other injustices are. Like I saw said online recently,

racism isn't getting worse, it's getting recorded.

You can't force someone to love and that's literally what is needed to resolve any of this. Race wars have gone on in every civilization since the beginning of time and will continue until the world is burned up with a fervent heat. (2 Peter 3:10)

God is love and without God, people who don't know God are not capable of loving the way they should.

So while I long for equality, I don't believe it will ever be. I pray for my husband, father, sons and brothers; that they stay protected and divinely covered. Shielded from this. For truly we live in a fallen world and this is the best thing I can do.

And at the same time I feel like some people are taking it too far. I see some influencers on YouTube and Instagram demanding that companies take a stance and show their support of the black community but I don't feel that's necessary. If you have never done anything to treat black people unfairly what do you have to prove?

It's a nice gesture that Amazon added a "Black Lives Matter" tagline to their streaming service screen but it's definitely unnecessary. To me it's actually a bit much. Even that street painting of the phrase in Washington D.C., though very much appreciated, is also a bit much for me.