Updated: Jun 4
Long deep breaths, in through my nose, out through my mouth. Repeat.
I had just watched the video of George Floyd being murdered by four Minneapolis police officers. I needed to breathe, but for every deep breath I took, the thought that George had his breath snatched from him hurt my heart, I was enraged, I was outraged, I just felt tired.
Like some of you, today I cried I couldn’t believe that I just witnessed a man being murdered- - crying for his life
- - asking for his mother
- - describing what his last seconds felt like as three officers knelt on him.
Almost 700 pounds of weight was what George Floyd felt in his last moments.
I watched as the people each screamed to the police officers,
“you’re killing him”,
“he cannot breathe”
“get off of his neck”
I watched as an EMT walked up and took his pulse - -you could tell that this man was no longer alive.
I looked at the face of the police officer that had his knee on his neck for more than 8 minutes.
I watched as the urine ran down the pavement from George Floyd’s body.
I watched as the blood ran out of his nose.
I watched as he begin to lose all of his bodily fluids because his organs were shutting down.
I was present when my sister and my daughter died and what I can tell you is that you can feel the life leaving out of someone’s body when they are dying and I thought to myself - - what did these three men think as they felt the life leave out of George Floyd’s body.
"You can feel the life leaving out of someone's body."
Like many of you I was enraged and I was out raged that again we see another black man die at the hands of white police officers.
Many of you visit my blog and see my quaint life, my love for my children, my passion for writing...you see my dance with life. As a storyteller, a writer-- what I offer you may not always look pretty, it may not always have a happy ending, life isn't always quaint. This is one of those stories.
Many media reports that you have seen and will see, use terms to disparage the person and to trigger you into believing that this was an error. Such as:
"Unarmed Black Man."
"Person of Interest."
It is not my desire to trigger you but to simply state some facts, to humanize George Floyd, to open up a dialogue.
"Please I can't breath!"
"My stomach hurts!"
"My neck hurts!"
"They're going to kill me!"
These were the last words of George Floyd. Known as Big Floyd in his hometown of Houston, Texas, he was a father, a beloved family member, a known community activist, a man of peace.
George Floyd grew up in Houston’s 3rd Ward, At 6 feet, 6 inches, he was the star tight end for Jack Yates High School. Donnell Cooper, a classmate says he remembers Big Floyd towered over everyone and earned the nickname “gentle giant.”
“Quiet personality but a beautiful spirit,” Cooper said. His death “definitely caught me by surprise. It’s just so sad, the world we’re living in now.”
Another childhood friend of George said he and some of their mutual friends had moved to Minneapolis in search of jobs about 2014.
“He was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning,” Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”
Floyd landed a job working security at a Salvation Army store in downtown Minneapolis. He later started working two jobs, one driving trucks and another as a bouncer at Conga Latin Bistro, where he was known as “Big Floyd.”
“Always cheerful,” Jovanni Tunstrom, the bistro’s owner, said. “He had a good attitude. He would dance badly to make people laugh. I tried to teach him how to dance because he loved Latin music, but I couldn’t because he was too tall for me. He always called me ‘Bossman.’ I said, ‘Floyd, don’t call me Bossman. I’m your friend.”
Harris said Floyd was laid off when Minnesota shut down restaurants as part of a stay-at-home order. He said he spoke with Floyd on Sunday night and gave him some information for contacting a temporary jobs agency.
“He was doing whatever it takes to maintain going forward with his life." Floyd leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington, the Houston Chronicle reported.
He was doing whatever it takes to maintain going forward with his life. Isn't that what we all are doing, isn't that what each of us are doing everyday. When do we as Black and Brown people get to just breathe and do life like everyone else. Why has there been such a long wait to breathe?
He was doing whatever it takes to maintain going forward with his life.
Four officers, Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng lynched George Floyd. Coinsidencely he was murdered on the two year anniversary of his own mother's death. My heart is heavy.
As I watched the video, I studied the body language of one officer in particular - Derek Chauvin. The officer kneeling on his neck. I looked into his eyes as he applied more pressure slowly without sudden movement so no one would see, he made sure to continue to cut his breathing off until he was no longer moving. Derek Chauvin and George Floyd worked together as bouncers at the same lounge for years. If you think this was an error, a small over use of power, or a casualty of crime, you are sadly mistaken!
I could also tell you about the time the Santa Rosa County Police Dept pulled me over, took me and my kids out of the car, searched my vehicle and then proceeded to tell my daughter that he has lots of black friends and that he is sorry. I could tell you about the racism I experienced growing up in perdominly white schools, being called a nigger by a teacher and students. I could recount the day a police officer was called on me simply because I'm black, you want to know what happened, I stood up for myself and I told him- - - in no ways will he touch me or interrogate me about anything because I've done nothing wrong. I asked him, chest to chest, do you want to arrest me for existing? I could tell you more but you get the picture. And the question remains, when do we get to breathe?
This is what is what racism of POC look like everyday.
When do we get to breathe?
Everyday in my own life I practice meditation, a practice of deep breathing where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular thought – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Though meditation invites calmness and focus in my life, I do not live in a bubble. My community has waited long enough to breathe!
Meditating this morning was difficult as I breathe deeply I couldn't help but to think about George Floyd's last breaths. When do we get to breathe, I keep asking myself. That's what I asked God today. When do we get to finally breathe?
Institutional racism also known as systematic racism is a form of racism expressed in the practice of social and political institutions. It is reflected in disparities regarding wealth, income, criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education, among other factors. It is real, it is happening, its been happening because it's been a long wait to breathe. When do we get to breathe? I believe we get to breathe when love becomes stronger than hate. With all that has happened, how do we get there? I don't have the answer but I promise to keep you updated as I follow this closely.
I want to sign off with the light that George Floyd was.
Here are some significant developments:
The Justice Dept. and FBI have pledged to undertake a “robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death and said in a joint statement that the inquiry is “a top priority.”
Floyd’s family will seek an independent autopsy of his body because it does not trust Minneapolis city officials, an attorney for the family said Thursday on CNN.
Floyd’s death also sparked rallies in other parts of the country on Wednesday. In Memphis, a crowd gathered outside a police building and chanted “no justice, no peace.” In Los Angeles, protesters blocked a freeway and confronted a California Highway Patrol car.
U.S. police chiefs, many of whom have been pushing their officers to de-escalate tense situations and decrease their use of force, responded with disgust to Floyd’s death and praised Minneapolis’s chief for firing the officers involved.
I hope that this time we use our voices as one for a call for justice and equality.
Stay tuned as I continue to shed light and celebrate the life of George Floyd. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. I extend my prayers and thoughts to the family of King Floyd.