Every Time I Start Writing


It gets caught in my throat

And I wonder how he must have felt

To know that centuries of oppression pushed into his neck

Only to remind him of where he belonged

It hurts

To write these words and yet I cant stop

I cant breathe

It hurts so much

And I am afraid

I am afraid

I am afraid that if I have a black son I would be forced

To see the noose tighten around his neck every day on the way to school

Just because of the color of his skin

His murder was a modern day lynching

And it took 46 years to tighten the noose

The lynching was 8 minutes and 46 seconds long

Another man’s noose in Florida took 25 years

A son’s only took only 17

The kind of rope has changed but the outcome has remained the same

And I write

Because it hurts

And I can’t breathe

I write because MLK told me to

I write because Langston Hughes told me to

I write because James Baldwin told me to

I write because I don’t know what else to do

I love America more than any other country in this world

James Baldwin said

And exactly for this reason I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually

I criticize her because I love her

I criticize her because I love her

I thought we could get past this

I thought we were better

We are not past this

We are not better

Perpetually, we are scared

It was intolerance and hate that sparked the first flames

That burned Minneapolis to the ground

And yet

We must grieve past this

We must be better


Why does it take a man to beg for breath

For a whole nation to lose their own?


I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

I can’t



-JC