I can’t breathe, that’s what he said with a knee against his neck. And thousands of others like him have sung that three-word chorus, all of their gasping voices still echoing, still ignored as we turn a deaf ear and stare numbly, turning the street corner to avoid taking the side of the dying man.

Hatred is viral evil. A communicable disease spread in our streets, raised in our homes, still no known vaccine to stop its transmission. This morning I woke up to a world with my breath nowhere to be found. Land of the free, an illusion we were bred to believe, home of the…. hurry! There’s blood on the burning flag now. We wave it, we pledge allegiance– to bodies littering sidewalks, grocery store aisles boasting Buy one get one free!, gas stations under the afternoon sun– black bodies, black lives, blackness an unforgivable sin.

They say look the other way. They say they deserved it for resisting. They say it’s not me, it’s not someone I knew. But complicity breeds more fathers wiped from history books. Privilege erases them as if they never existed. If you can still breathe easily in a world like this, then we do not occupy the same world.

I’d say their names but there are far too many now.

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