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I Can't Breathe!

Politico-Socio issues stay ever with us. Gain perspective deciding if these words resonate with your understanding and thinking.

No. It was not my neck under the knee of that "peace" officer in 2020. No, it was not my head locked in the arms of that public servant in 2014. I vividly acknowledge that I look like the men whose necks public servants constricted, holding enough air to frame dying utterances of "I can't breathe."

Pointing out our racial similarities would spell the end of our connections with each other if I ignored my religious perspective. Spiritually, I submit that all of humanity is related by a divine Father in Heaven. Others may or may not agree with my spiritual conviction of the brotherhood of mankind, adding no value to those bonds. That I have a connection to those who died in police custody is of personal validity because I recognize our connections above political perspectives. Contrary to popular opinion about Right-leaning Conservative Republicans all supporting one world view or ideology, I support all ideologies that work together to verify the validity of the Constitution and its acknowledgment of our God-given rights. Still, I cannot rest easy knowing some lose their lives, whether intentionally or unintentionally, in police custody.


These things could happen to my sons. My Black sons...


Hurt comes in so many forms. There exists a hurt that few humans get to experience though we all get to experience hurt. This hurt is one where there is no clear comfort. The wounds do not completely heal, and the soreness from the hurt lasts--nagging and gnawing at the soul

Interrupted in my personal suffering while I lay in the hospital bed the weekend George Floyd lost his life at the hands of a man entrusted to protect him, a switch clicked on (or off depending on perspective) in my soul. Understanding eluded me at the time, but frustration sent me into automatic conservative mode. I perused the notification on FaceBook with my usual skepticism.

"What was he doing to warrant that reaction from the officer," I fired off immediately in my dazed and medicated existence. I put the phone down and allowed my own discomfort to matter to me alone as I healed from going to the brink of life's end.

Days later in my clear-headed newly discharged patient position at home, I read the story again with a clearer understanding. One of my friends, whom I know does not participate in sensationalism, posted George Floyd's story again. I took time, about two hours to read Mr. Floyd's story and its comparisons with others from the past.

What did this man, George, die from on the street pressed into a patrol car tire by the neck? What was he doing that warranted capital punishment?

I can't breathe.

Hurt comes in so many forms. There exists a hurt that few humans get to experience though we all get to experience hurt. This hurt is one where there is no clear comfort. The wounds do not completely heal and the soreness from the hurt lasts--nagging and gnawing at the soul.

Bars and Stars

Why could I not breathe? No one locked strong arms around my neck holding me fast until I leaked those words from my lips.

No knee constricted my airway from behind, causing my vocal cords' last vibrations to eke out those words.

Why could I not breathe? It happened again. A man, a Black man lost his life at the hands of those entrusted with public safety. Typically, I take the side of the officers on most occasions unless there exists some uncontestable evidence showing me that officers crossed the line of criminality. Still maintaining police support because of what I know, believe, and think happens in many Black communities, I tremble at the outrage of another death.

This time around, for a moment, I lost my religious net of safety with which I protect my spirit. Gone for a moment were the justifications for why officers use lethal force.

My voice cried out in a moment of pleading despair to God, Who I know listened, "Why does this keep happening to us? Why?"

He heard my frustration. I glanced over at one of my three sons, a strapping young man with fine features and a muscled build. What if it is him, I thought as I stared so uncomfortably at him that one of my four daughters thought that I would need another trip to the hospital.

He isn't so tall, but he doesn't smile so much or talk so often. I told him then and there, "Do not resist the police. Do exactly what they say if they ever stop you."

Crashing down with such force my brain seemed rattled from the impact came the thoughts that so many of my people, of late, died even in complete compliance to officers!

I can't breathe.

"Dad," yelled my daughter. "Are you alright. You look like you are going to fall."

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I apologized. The weekend George died, I almost died too due to renal failure. I fell down three times hitting my head--each time with such force it caused my family to think I surely died. I fell down the stairs. I fell while leaving the restroom. I fell slamming into the kitchen table and against the floor with eyes bulging out, but no knee pressed my neck. No arms swelled against my neck. No gun pointed in my direction. No one followed me around because of my suspect looks.

These things could happen to my sons. My sons are not as articulate as am I. These offspring of mine did not grow up with the same world perspective as did I, to know my place and respect the social systems that reared me in the "Confederate" South where my high school mascot was a Confederate soldier and the sports teams were called Rebels.

No bars and stars crossed their eyes as they did mine each day reminding me that I am as safe as the majority group feels safe from me. My sons and daughters only know the racist parts of the world from books and stories.

I can't breathe.

George Floyd


Any other American can walk down a public street with confidence that officers will not approach him or her with the question, "Where are you going?" What about the question, "Where are you coming from? You look like a suspect in our description."



I'm hurting, my heart's full of rage

My life is a book that they can't even read 'cause I'm bleeding on every page

Our people are dying too young when we're tired of commenting all on their page

We just said a prayer for one and woke up and another was taken away

Let me know if it's better in space...

— Dax, aka, Daniel Nwosu Jr

White Advocates

When we were slaves, the majority of my ancestors, it was legal to kill us in the street. The Constitution at the time supported the idea that we existed as a 3/5th population count legally with no voice other than "Yessum Massa."

We, Black people, were a commodity to sell, an animal to breed, and a thing to have, to build up the nation with no access to its protections. A war and correction to the Constitution later made us free on paper. America lived up to its covenant of liberty to all, on paper.

It took another hundred or so years to change the slave mentality of both the Whites and Blacks. It took marches and lynchings and killings and riots and the list goes on.

Both Blacks and Whites fighting to change. I still can't breathe. Why? I know that at any time the promise of the Constitution can be removed from me unless I have my White advocates there to protect me from racism.

Any other American can walk down a public street with confidence that officers will not approach him or her with the question, "Where are you going?" What about the question, "Where are you coming from? You look like a suspect in our description."

I love my friends and family who are or who look Caucasian. They protect me from others who do not recognize my humanity unless these friends and family members are nearby.

A large young officer followed me home one day with his lights off. I pulled into my driveway at my house not knowing he was there. Luckily a group of teens stood in my yard with my oldest son, White teens, as the officer came up to me. One of the several young men, White young men, called me 'Dad,' gave me a hug, and told me to turn around.

There stood an officer. He told me my taillight was out and went on his way. What would have happened if there were no White people in my yard?

I can't breathe.

I sat down and had a talk with my sons about how to be a Black person in a predominately White neighborhood. I told them they could not be as rowdy as their White friends or as carelessly teen because some of the older White neighbors might feel threatened and call the police.

I told them they might be questioned by police or stopped for doing something normal that their friends who happen to be White do without incident.

I told them not to question the police.

I told them not to move too aggressively.

I told my sons' White friends they have to always stay with my boys and never leave them alone because of what might happen to them. On paper we are free, but in reality, we are free as long as no one feels threatened by our dark skin.

I can't breathe.

Imagine having to think each day in public that an agitated officer could mistake you for a criminal and harm, even kill you. Imagine going outside each day knowing one of your neighbors might call the police on you for taking out the trash.

I can't breathe.


How Long?

In my faith, I am supposed to forgive and forget, turn the other cheek. I am to love my fellow men as I love myself and return kindness for abuse. I am supposed to do these things until my life is over whether it be by natural causes or by a knee.

I cried out to God, "Why! How long will this unsteady life exist for my people, my sons, and me?"

Came the words to my mind,

My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job.

And they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted, and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun; and also that God hath set his hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they may not understand his marvelous workings; that he may prove them also and take them in their own craftiness; also because their hearts are corrupted, and the things which they are willing to bring upon others, and love to have others suffer, may come upon themselves to the very uttermost; that they may be disappointed also, and their hopes may be cut off; and not many years hence, that they and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall.

Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. (Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-17)

Jesus called my people to be like He is: bold when necessary but humble in perpetuity. We are to suffer at the hands of the unrighteous until the wrath of God is full.

When the time comes we will rise in glory for our suffering if we bear it with patience as we call for redress to our ills.

Jesus flipped tables when it was called for but went dumb before the haters in the end only to have a glorious resurrection. In the end, He will return and put down all His enemies.

In the end, I will breathe. It has been prophesied.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Rodric Anthony Johnson


Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Dale, thanks for coming to Hubpages and reading my article. There will be many days of breathlessness in the future, but I hope to endure them all until we can all breathe easy.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Fawaz, thanks for reading and supporting this message. as much as it is a message of hurt, it is a message of endurance.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Beth, thanks for commenting and sharing your own pain about the situation. I am happy that I could share this article so that people like you would feel free to share how they feel on this venue. I shed tears about George when I read about him and his life. I don't have hate for the officers who killed him, only sorrow that they thought it was necessary to handle him like that.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Pamela, thanks for expressing your support. This article was a Facebook post that I deleted and made into an article. I have hope for the future of our society. My middle son just left the house and I think about his safety each time like other parents do. One day I hope not to have to think about him getting hurt for being a color. Police are good for our society. Every group or profession has some bad elements that eek through.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Sharlee, you are welcome. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

Ruby, thanks for your support and well wishes. Knowing that people do support our hurt makes it easier to heal. It is up to us to do that healing, I know. I can only speak for myself, but I think all good people can agree.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 03, 2020:

M J, thank you for reading and commenting. Thanks for your support and I apologize for not acknowledging your and everyone else's comments sooner.

Dale Wight on May 31, 2020:

Thank you, Rodric. You have an important message.

Unfortunately, it looks like more "breathless" days are coming.

Fawaz Akintunde from Lagos, Nigeria on May 31, 2020:

Great article. Very much needed at this trying period

Beth Perry from Tennesee on May 30, 2020:

A beautiful article, and I hope you are well on the way to full recovery.

So many of us have been horrified by the footage of George Floyd's death. It was murder, pure and simple. Every one of us should be able to rely on our police to protect and to serve, and not abuse anyone as that poor man was.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 30, 2020:

I don't think I was the only white person who cried when watching that video. I hope nothing like that ever happens again as it is heartbreaking and I don't think I am the only white person who feels this way. I hate the thought of your 3 sons walking down the street wondering if they will be stopped for some crime they didn't even committ. I know that most police are good but I also realize you have to be fearful of all and I hate that for your. This article spells it all out.

Sharlee on May 30, 2020:

Thank you for posting this article... It was so needed. Bless you...

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 29, 2020:

I can barely type for tears filling my eye's. God bless you and all people who are hurting because of hate discrimination. How terrible that you must fear for your family's safety. I thought after we elected President Obama it would change, but I see it's growing worse. I wish every white person would rise up in support of equality for all mankind. Red, yellow, black and white are precious in God's sight. I hope you are getting better from your illness and we will never again hear a black man say, " I can't breathe. "

MJ Dillon from Chicago, IL on May 29, 2020:

Absolutely heartbreaking. Heartbreaking, and enraging. I’m a white female. I know I have some privilege, though not as much as a white male. I’m doing what I can to help. Using my voice, signing petitions. The violence needs to end. BLM

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