Have you ever had a moment where you had difficulty breathing? It’s not a comfortable feeling. I don’t have asthma, but I have a son whose asthma is triggered by allergens. Asthma makes breathing laborious. It causes pain in your chest and can trigger anxiety, and you can’t function at your full capacity. You have to rest and be given extra oxygen, the very thing everyone else has, yet something is blocking you from having the ability to get it.
For Black people and other racially marginalized individuals, racism is the allergen, and it is always allergy season. And the levels are high. Some symptoms may be more severe for others, but collectively, our way of breathing—even our way of living—is challenged. Every area of our life is impacted, which makes it difficult to operate at our full capacity.
Derek Chauvin, the former police officer responsible for the killing of George Floyd, was found guilty on each of the three crimes he was charged with: He was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. There was a collective sigh of relief, but it was brief. While we were beginning to exhale, our breath was interrupted by the news of a 16-year-old Black girl who was killed by a police officer. Our breathing stays labored.