Could You Ever Forget These Three Words – “I Can’t Breathe”?

Photo by Vince Fleming

No, you cannot! You recollect that torturous position of Eric Garner, desperately grasping to breathe, fully stuck under the weight of that brutal police officer. Though this incident was around six years back, it never left my thoughts! What Kind Of Hatred Is This, Towards One Community? And, just three months back, history repeated itself when George Floyd was underneath the entire weight police officer with the same brutality, on his neck! Behind the camera, some intellects interpreted these three desperate words (I Can’t Breath) into various formats – the desperate endeavor of Brown and Black people against novel coronavirus. “I Can’t Breathe” emerged as one of the election slogans during the three simultaneous emergencies. And, it was added as one of the basic human rights – Food, Clothing, Shelter, [and now] Breathe! This situation arose because since the year 2020, and especially after this incident, Black Americans perceive a tremendous inequality in most of the fields including the Right to Breath’, which is still not answered and worked upon with absolute measures, by the current government.

Yes, I am a Black ecologist and how can I detach my Black color to support our Earth? It is hereditary. Many times my Black personality has witnessed the rigid intersection of environmental and social injustice especially our – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). My experience has witnessed (and still experiencing) all these obstacles – Ecological Inequality, Health Discrimination, and Police Inhumaneness – averting Blacks’ not only for basic living but for their success as well!

One Question Every American Is Trying To Bury Deep Within Their Heart – Why Covid-19 Death Ratio Of Black People Is On Higher Side Than Rest Of The Americans?

Currently, the entire world is passing through desperate times, including the US because of the COVID-19 plague. Covid-19 is capable of attacking the breathing system of the people and creates major respiratory problems. This virus does not adhere to any kind of color discrimination, and hence, we all are prone to its attack. But, in reality, it is shocking to know that not this virus but the Black Skins have been unreasonably crushed when compared with White Americans!

What is this shocking reality?

The figures depict that Black Americans’ death ratio – due to Covid-19 – is two times more than the White Americans’ death ratio. The reality is the Black Americans are facing torturous discrimination in the healthcare system and hence their deaths are on the very high side. The Century Foundation Report has put forth the most staggering data from 2019 confirming that Black pregnant women are prone to death 3 times more than the white pregnant women in the US. The death ratio in the case of Black new-borns is also on the higher side!

The entire American policy system has compelled us to embrace this negative thought – we will be watching again and again a Black person gasping his last breath on camera.

COVID-19 is the current crisis that we, people of color are dealing with!

But long before this pandemic we are compelled to deal with Ecological Inequality directly affecting our health. To put forth this discrimination in the form of redlining that adds the climate burden on black communities. The American Lung Association has presented the report stating that around 14 million people of color, dwelling in the communities that have a high risk of short and long term vulnerability to air and ozone contamination. This exposure to contaminated air and ozone pollution directly affects their heart diseases and breathing disorders and weakens their resistance power, thus getting highly prone to COVID-19. The EPA report of 2018 has disclosed that most probably the Black Americans are expected to stay near the industrial units or landfills. Furthermore, as quoted by Quartz – As most of the Black Americans & people of color are residing adjacent to these precarious waste products, it makes them three times more susceptible to death due to nearby climate pollution as compared with white Americans.

In short, we the People of Color are being targeted and become the center of all these three disparities – Health care discrimination, Ecological injustice, and America’s policing system – compelling us to embrace that pessimistic thought of witnessing a Black person gasping to death on camera.

How many incidences you have read? One more police brutality experience I had witnessed in the year 2014. An unarmed Black teenager named Mike Brown was killed by a police officer in my hometown of Florissant, Missouri at a couple of miles away in Ferguson. And that was the day, which gave birth to a spark- Black Life Matters’. And today after six years, it has become a revolution especially after the brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Geroge Floyd, Breonna Taylor, this list is unending!

Do We Black Americans Have Right To Dream?

Some optimistic thought was making its way into my mind especially after the summer’s protests, which I expected, can lead to some real change. It was instantly blocked by Kenosha, Wisconsin, the brutal police officer, who shot Jacob Blake seven times! Luckily, this police brutality could not take Jacob’s breath out of him but gave a different result. Jacob’s survival will help him to tell us the entire episode to the world and expose these offenders. And maybe, we can expect justice!

Finally, this entire scenario of inequality directly affects those people who are highly susceptible and defenseless. Hence, The Theory of Intersectionality’, as termed by Kumberle Crenshaw, gets very high importance. Whenever and in whatever way they are hurt repeatedly – ecologically or socially – we have to accept the fact that injustice is perceived to be dominant against BIPOC! Today, water is already flowing above the nose and it is the right time to work out for some concrete answers, which will allow every person – irrespective of the skin tone – secures The Right To Breathe’, though it is the universal truth that prejudice and partiality exists in almost all the domains.

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