10 Editor's Pick
May 28, 2020

Hey America, I Can’t Breathe.

Read this: Who is Derek M. Chauvin? 
And the beautifully and powerfully written:“Well. My city is burning.” 


I write this as a human—no race, no color, no religion.

I see one more hashtag added #justiceforfloyd after #justiceforahmaud, #justiceforcooper, and many others. How many more #justicefor hashtags will we have to bear on our shoulders to the graves? How many names will we add to the list before we realize these are not statistics but lives lost?

I saw the video of George Floyd. The officer had his hands in his pockets while he kneeled on George’s neck. I was more than concerned. I was horrified and disturbed—this was no walk in the park with hands casually in the pocket.

The officer knew he was on the record; he could hear the cries for help from George and the bystanders and the haunting sentence—“I can’t breathe.”

Yet he did not flinch, and he did not stop for even a few seconds to check on George. By putting his hands in his pockets, was he announcing resolute dominance by knee or mocking the judicial system by oppression and thriving racism?

I cannot pinpoint a rational explanation of why some lives matter than others. “We the people” in the constitution are sounding weaker and weaker. We have not found a solution to racism, and we don’t know how to stop these acts because racism is entrenched in society; its roots are deep and thick. We don’t know how far we will have to dig to find the root of racism and what it will take to cut the root so that the tree stops bearing hateful, racist acts.

I also confess that I do not know what to do next except to write about it. I have more questions than answers for you. And maybe you who is reading these words can suggest a thought, if not a solution.

The unfortunate reality remains—George Floyd and many others did not return home, and they died in a free country in broad daylight with people around them witnessing the happening. The most important right is the right to live. And this right has been taken away from many, time and time again.

Can we no longer look the other way and protest peacefully against the gruesome reality of racism? Perhaps, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision to see his children not judged by the color of their skin is still a dream after all.

I remember when my child was only eight years old, he had asked me about the color of his skin—brown, living in a predominantly white residential area, attending school with more white to any other race ratio. My answer was simple and based on science—the magic of melanin—a dark brown to black pigment produced by cells called melanocytes. Melanin protects from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and people close to tropics produce more melanin to protect themselves from the sun rays resulting in a darker skin tone.

How a skin pigment came to determine the character of a human being bewilders my son, who often questions the behavior of others based on skin color.

For me, this is my small solution—to educate my children and teach them not to judge anyone based on color, status, or religion. Education and awareness begin at home.

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick’s solution was to take a knee as a way to protest for the use of police brutality against minorities, especially against African Americans. I, too, take a knee today because:

Hey America, I can’t breathe.

Enough said and enough written.

I will kneel, and I will kneel in grace. I will kneel in peace. I will kneel with respect. I will kneel for a fair society and social justice because each one of us has a right to live.

I will kneel because I don’t want to see another human killed at the corner of the street for his skin color.

I will kneel because, once living and breathing, humans are not hashtags on social media.

I will kneel because I want the policymakers to change direction toward policies that are just and equitable.

I will kneel because I want accountability and justice from Minnesota.

I will kneel to protest in peace.

I will kneel because I believe in the values on which this great nation founded liberty and justice for all.

I will kneel because if we do not speak up, then who will? And if we do not protest, then who will?

And I will kneel in the memory of George Floyd and other countless lives lost in senseless acts of racism and hatred.

Lastly, this is my human plea—we should all kneel, for everyone has the right to live. No one should have control over someone’s else breath by placing a knee. Period.

May George Floyd’s memory be a blessing for all. My heartfelt condolences to his family.


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Priya Tandon  |  Contribution: 42,225

author: Priya Tandon

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Editor: Naomi Boshari