I Can’t Breathe

January 23, 2019 by Guest Student Author

By Mia Mullings


It’s crazy the way society prepared me for a war.

I came out of my mother's womb destined to be a warrior,

Because I would be thought of as inferior as soon as I took my first breath,


The rise of the chest,

I Inhale and exhale,

But struggle to because with each rise and each fall,

I remember,

I am black.


As a girl I would always say,

“Mommy what made white people better”

The tears in her eyes would fountain over their lids,

As I wait for the perfect explanation,

As to why I had to work 10 times harder for a better education,

As to why my being beautiful was a part of my imagination,

As to why my white teacher told me I had to respect him because 99% of the government was white,

As to why I must know the name of each great white colonizer while my white peers stand before me oblivious to the name of a black civil rights activist

As to why I cried at night over another dead black boy whose dreams were shot down because they never took flight,

As to why my white principal told us we couldn’t say “I can’t breathe” to honor Eric Garner

Even though I can’t breathe,

I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe ,

When every chance I take to advance myself I remember the advantages of the color opposite mine,

It’s crazy how at a young age thoughts of the police killing my brother filled my mind,


The advantages of being white shouldn’t outweigh,

What’s it like to be black every single day,

In the perfect world , no one would have to think about their color,

Crazy how sometimes I wanna put a check in the box that states other,

Simply because it hurts too much to acknowledge that my people that have been seen as less than three quarters,

I can’t breathe


Just like how Walter Scott was,

When he was shot by in the back with the 5 bullets he couldn’t see,

1 wasn’t enough the police decided to take another one yet wasn’t done,


I have a daughter,

Is what Oscar Grant stated as his blood surrounded his body like water,


At the prime age of 12,

Tamar Rice lost his life,

And in the end the white man dressed in blue was right ,


How can this world sleep?

When it is everyday that the murderer of a young black child is set free,

All because of a system that refuses to unchain people like me,


Can't you see why I can’t breathe?

Every time I move my wrists,

The ropes tighten their grips,

As they move down to my hips,

I am buried.


They call the death of my people happening,

Something more like “just an accident”

When In reality

I know there is enough gun training

For the officer to avoid shooting my people dead

Maybe try the foot or the leg

Or maybe just say “Hands up”

So u don’t mistake a hairbrush for a knife or a gun

But no,

They shoot to kill .


Now Can’t you see that every single bullet that my brothers receive,

Penetrates a hole in the heart that I will never have for this society .


But I won’t stop fighting,

Because the only things I have to lose are my chains .

I will learn about my black history myself, until the school system finally values Phillis Wheatley, Ruby Bridges, and Emmett Till as much as they do Christopher Columbus.

I will chant I can’t breathe to honor Eric Garner even though my white principal told me I couldn’t

I will repaint the image of a black woman that society thought they already painted for me

I will refuse to let the words of the Pledge of Allegiance escape my lips , because as that flag waves freely I remember the freedom my ancestors never witnessed

And When asked what it’s like to be black

I will say amazing

Because I won’t ever forget,

That being black is an honor,

Because I come from a blood line

Of survivors,

Whose very palms,

Were the blueprints of my destiny .


Written by Guest Student Author

Periodically students volunteer or are asked to write for the Stoneleigh-Burnham blog.

Filed Under: student voice, anti-racism, Martin Luther King Day, Students of Color, Black pride