“I Can’t Breathe”

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck.

Where is the sun
When the son is dying?
Where is the sun
When darkness wraps the world
From the knee to the neck?

The voice of the ancestor has been lost,
No one in the night to show us the way.
Liberty is a statue that goes nowhere
And pretends to be free.
The children ask their mother and father ‘Why?”
They don’t know what to say,
But the tears cry so loud
That Mama Africa mourns its progenitors.

“I can’t breathe”
And the Indianapolis mayor saying:
“Being a black man shouldn’t be a death sentence”.
Can you hear that, America!  “I can’t breathe”!
And the pope hiding under his bed
He doesn’t want to be infected.
Jesus would visit all the hospitals
And touch all the sick people.

People, can you hear that? “I can’t breathe”!
Bat chen an, tann mèt li
I feel your knee on my neck. Get off my back!
It’s time for you to become a human being.
How come it takes you so long!
It has been centuries.
Your priority has shown your true face.
You can’t hide anymore
For the entire world has seen
Your knee on my neck.

You have removed from my body
The most precious thing that God gave me, my breath.
It’s not too late for you to become a human being,
And to know what the knees are made for
Before you lose your breath.

May 28, 2020

 Jacques Auguste is a poet, author, actor, and singer with Voix & Tambours d’Haiti.

 “Bat chen an, tann mèt li” is a Haitian proverb which translates “you can beat a dog, but just wait until his master comes,” meaning every transgression has its consequences.


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