No breath, no life.
Without oxygen, most everything withers and dies.
For those struggling to fill their lungs, every move, step, and aspiration is rendered difficult, diminished, and uncertain. Life is squelched and the marrow squeezed out. Freedom to live is shackled and choked, if not completely made impossible.
Sadly, in America, breathing has always been for white people.
Breathing freely, deeply, and peacefully has been assigned to the privileged. The United States Constitution in manifestation truly reads, “We the white people,” and “All white men are created equal.”
For actions speak louder than words.
With every lynching, enslavement, murder, displacement, beating, pillaging, and discrimination, everything that brings true life and living is reserved and restricted by the white man for the white man.
Breathing has always been for white people.
Breathing while jogging through a neighborhood, never worrying about being deemed a threat, wrestled to ground, or even murdered.
Breathing while in the cubicle, never fearing mistreatment, false accusations, exploitation, the subject of racial humor, or the recipient of bullying.
Breathing while driving, never fearing being profiled, pulled over, misled, unfairly treated, assumed guilty, unjustly handled, violently treated, wrestled to ground, beaten, or even killed.
Breathing while eating at a restaurant, never having to notice the eyes fixed upon you, feeling the attention to the color of your skin, fearing the abuse of your food, the diminished quality of service, and the obvious avoidance of your presence.
Breathing while your children attend school, never carrying the anxiousness of their undeserved negative treatment, personification of wrong-doing, internalization of inferiority, the onset of depression, and consistent unfair treatment.
Breathing while dealing with the legal system, never fearing being falsely accused, legally abused, criminally exploited, assumed guilty, the object of falsely placed evidence, the diminished or restricted access to proper legal support and counsel, or having a police officer kneel on your neck to the point of your death.
Breathing while shopping, never feeling the weight of people’s attention as they automatically fear that you might rob them or steal something, or sensing the surprise in their eyes as they assume you can’t afford what they are selling.
Breathing while enjoying success, knowing that people will never wonder what special circumstance, allowance, crime, or bending-of-the-rules were required for you to get there.
Breathing while moving into a new neighborhood, job, or church, never fearing the likely rejection, gossip, passive aggressiveness, or flat out resentment that will soon follow.
Breathing while protesting, always knowing that everything you do will be framed as righteous, inside the lines, and justified by the cause, as you’re labeled a “good person” and never a “thug” like all the others.
Breathing while pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, never carrying the weight, facing the unfairness, and suffering the oppression of a system clearly and intentionally bent towards the benefit, progress, power, and privilege of white, male America.
For in America, breathing has always been for white people.
Lynching, choking, suffocating, wheezing, and struggling to catch your breath has always been for everyone else.
Grace is brave. Be brave.