I won’t be silenced. You can’t keep me Quiet, Won’t Tremble when you try it. All I know is I won’t be speechless, speechless.
“Cause I’ll Breathe When they try to suffocate me, Don’t you Underestimate me Cause I know that I won’t go Speechless.”
“Speechless” from Aladdin, Naomi Scott Vocals.
In 2019 my lovely wife and I watched the Motion Picture Aladdin, eating popcorn and enjoying life. Was it a dream that such a time existed when we could gather in mass, shoulder to shoulder, cheering, singing, praying, laughing, crying together? Those times may be returning; we can only hope. COVID 19 showed our interconnectedness by the exchange of microscopic water droplets. If I talk, you can choose to ignore me, but ultimately, you feel me in the very air you breathe.
Those words in Aladdin took on prophetically ominous tones that we would experience in 2020. COVID 19 became an agent for laying bare America’s racial health disparities (Social Determinants of Health). The deafening quiet of the pandemic crescendoed during 8 minutes and 45 seconds of Silence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd was lynched for all the world to see. 2020 saw the intersection of two breathtaking pandemics, one a virus and the other systemic racism.
A .98 inch diameter windpipe (Trachea) is our only connection to life on this earth, and a tiny 2-inch voice box at the top of the windpipe is responsible for verbal expression. I can’t breathe echoed from this big man’s small voice box as it was surrendering to officer Derek Chauvin’s crushing 167 pounds of force. “I can’t breathe” are the last words of the 395 pound Eric Garner who succumbed to an NYC Police officer’s chokehold.
The injection of Chauvin’s and other grotesque racists’ violent acts brought about momentary soberness to the nation. As Naloxone is to a heroin high, A country hooked on racism had a moment of healing. One year later, the sobriety yields. Another episode of white backlash attempts to put those Blacks, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and their allies back in their place. Ultimately long-term rehabilitation is needed, starting with national repentance. Reparations must be a part of any discussion of a national restoration from racism.
As Founder of Three-Fifths Magazine, I echo Naomi Scott’s words expressed in “Speechless,” “I Won’t Be Silenced.” Breathing is an act of worship of our creator. The breath which was snatched from George Floyd, Breonna Taylor Ahmaud Arbery, among others, is so precious and sacred. The holiest name of God is Yahweh The Hebrew spelling is YHWH; sounded out, it becomes synonymous with the inhalation and exhalation of breathing. Every breath we take speaks the name of God.
“Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth, and the breath of life will go back to God, who gave it to us.” Ecclesiastes 12:7 The Good News Translation (GNT)
Image bearers are responsible for the lives affected by the words of their resolve. Though some try to ignore us, America feels us. From the droplets in the air to generations of shed blood and protesting boots on the ground. The footprints of a multiethnic democracy transformed this country into something unique, something accountable, something real.
The existence of BIPOC have constantly challenged America to be true to the words, “All Men Are Created Equal,” i.e.:
- Emancipation Proclamation
- 13th Amendment Ending of Slavery
- 14th Amendment, Rights of Citizenship
- 15th Amendment, Black men can vote
- Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Voting Rights Act of 1965
- The Fair Housing Act of 1968
To be silenced in abdication to the status quo would be injustice, i.e., “Silence is Betrayal.-MLK.” What is the subsequent appearance of tangible change, and who will its champions be? Keep breathing, keep speaking truth to power. Together we can make a difference.
By Kevin Robinson Founder, Editor/Publisher of Three-Fifths Magazine