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“I Cannot Breathe”

by Oyin Oladipo


Strip me of this accursed Black skin, I want to live in peace!

I watched this video with emotions I can’t describe.

But, America why?  England, why?

I watched this fully aware that I am Black, living in a White world.

I am Black, in a white college.

I am Black, in a white country.

I am Black – and to many I am wrong!

For this, I cannot breathe.

For how long will this injustice prevail?

Slavery, oppression, repression, murder… genocide.

Does God ever curse the oppressors of His people?

Or, does He simply look away?

If this is the God of the Exodus, isn’t it time he drowns Pharaoh?

Isn’t it time he destroys Pharaoh’s army of brutal oppressors?

If only for a moment, to allow me to take the breath of life.

But, nay – this white-washed, blue-eyed Jesus

appears to side with the oppressors – is He the oppressor!

They have changed the hew of his skin,

changed His hair and changed the colour of eyes.

He belongs to them, and they are His oppressors.

How can I believe when I cannot breathe?

I cry at the death of my people.

I weep beneath the weight of hopelessness

of being brown, labelled black, somehow – being born wrong.

Strip me please, strip this accursed melanin off of me;

for a chance to live in peace,

I’ll willingly shed this skin,

for a chance to breathe.

But, I cannot breathe,

my life is like a wobbly, fluttering flame to be snuffed out.

I have no power, I cannot breathe;

I die daily at the hands of those who hold the guns,

who hold the power, who hold the wealth, who hold the Bible.

I cannot breathe, because I am Black,

this White man’s knee remains ever constant on my neck,

blocking my airways, stifling my screams, ignoring my pleas,

I cannot breathe.

I cannot breathe, I cannot breathe.

God of my ancestors – where are you?

God of the heavens where are you?

As for this blue-eyed Jesus,

He and his comrades, they are silent,

And, their eyes have looked away.