Language of the Unheard

The first George Floyd protest was peaceful. Bystanders called out to police officers to let the man go, to let him breathe, he’s saying he can’t breathe, come on. No one threw a bottle at the police officer kneeling on the neck of a man on the ground. No one picked up a rock to smash a window. And no one listened.

On Saturday night I couldn’t sleep. I scrolled through photos of graffiti, tributes to Floyd and calls to pursue justice. On a stop sign, “don’t” spray-painted above STOP. On a wall: black lives fucking matter.

I think about my son who is white. His growing up fears are different than those of his black and brown peers. A decade from now, my son will not be afraid at a traffic stop – the taillight is out, speeding, sure – but will a black man still tense at the wheel, talk himself calm?

Black lives matter.

People can’t breathe.