Right to Breathe

What a world we live in

Born unto a bloody towel in a white room surrounded by people cheering us on while we cry and scream

Gently patted on the back until we can breathe

Slowly we’re taught to muffle those same cries that were once applauded

Indoctrinated to know wrong from right, black from white

Walking on stolen land to school to learn about 1492

And say a pledge to a cloth of red, white, and blue

But what does that all mean to you?

When the Trail of Tears has been erased from the history books

When it’s not about individual thoughts but how someone looks

And what about when that same baby applauded for crying, screaming, and breathing, cries out that they can’t breathe?

But we’re applauding the perpetrators because possibly they weren’t a perfect human being

Perhaps they had a dark side

Or simply, came from the darker side.

When we come into this world covered in blood, gasping for air, and leave the same way

Where’s the Deus Ex Machina of our burning world when crimes against humanity are being committed in the name of the good god above?

Take a breath and breathe in the air from

Californian and Australian wildfires

Go out to a restaurant and chat about cancelled football games while someone without a mask coughs in the background.

When did breathing become so controversial?

The very thing that sustains us has become a political warzone

We protect our own but no one else

When did the right to life become up for debate?

Well, it all started when a group of slaveowners and enablers wrote a document that would determine the fate of their newly acquired land across a continent that was not theirs for the taking

And thus: A Nation Was Born.

But the right to breathe was only guaranteed if you fell within the hidden asterisk after “land of the free”

For whom is this land free for if the right to breathe is not guaranteed?

If the right to kick and scream changes not only with your age but with your skin color, too?

This is our child that we have raised

And it’s continued destruction by perpetuating this toxic social construction is our cross to bear and burn.

We are but a young nation in this world

And thus we have so much growing up to do

In rearing this child not learning from but re-enacting the past

If we continue to stay stuck in our old ways, we will always be taking and breaking our toys

And when we’re playing with human lives

It becomes more than just the most dangerous game.

We built this world

Simply fit together a base of blocks in slots, but never thought to think outside the box

It’s time we tear this dollhouse down

And build a playground fit for everyone.

As with any construction

If you can build it up, you can tear it down.

And so it’s time we grow up and found a new home built with enough freedom, space, and grace, for every human and race to breathe

And turn up your face to the smiling sun that asks not what your privilege can do for you, but blindly asks what your light and warmth can do for the world

-Tory Rose

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