I can’t breathe

I can’t breathe

My tongue cannot help me form the words
that can translate how I feel

My lips cannot speak the words
that can express my pain
I will only stutter

So I write

How can one explain
the masochistic superiority
of Western culture

that falsely assumes superiority
over your body

White bodies over black bodies
North over South
Male over Female

I can’t breathe

Knowing that the bones of your ancestors
are buried in sands of deep oceans

without Grace

I can’t breathe
knowing that slave labour


is at the base of modern day economy

I can’t breathe

Memories of cotton fields
Sugar plantations
Coffee plantations

The sun burning your body
Sweat and tears streaming down your face

No agency
No compassion

Work until you die

Buried in your DNA

I can’t breathe
feeling your knee on his body
pushed into obedience
Grasping for air
as you slowly force the life out of him

I can’t breathe
knowing that your existence
that this society
was not build for you
was not build for you thrive
to excell
to grow
to enjoy
to be free

It has been build on your labour
Your exploitation

Yet we pretend we are diverse
Peace loving

there has been no forgiveness

There has been no wonder
about the bodies
and pain
of descendants of ancestors
on slave ships

Taken from their families
pushed into ownership
into slave labour
into a life of great suffering

I can’t breathe

Knowing that this
this pain
these centuries of exploitation
are being ignored

Knowing that we live in societies founded on great injustice
that sugar, coffee, cotton, spices
are being traded
as if nothing happened
as if it’s all ethical

Fair trade

We are living a lie
A big fat colonial lie

Right in our face

Do not pretend to be an anti-racist
I uncover all forms of misogyny
White supremacy
Inside me

Locate it in my body
Come to understand how my identity was built
on the exploitation of others
on the false understanding of superiority over others

Come to understand how I presume the inferiority of others
formed by centures of inequality
feeling better than others
misinterpreting people’s customs, cultures, ways of life

There is great wisdom to be unlocked
when I
white person
heal myself
heal my identity
heal my past

Become humble

learn about herstory
learn about history
learn about Africa
learn about ancient ways

Shut my mouth
Shut my presumptions
and listen

Become wise

The ways of ancient times
are calling
Deep knowing

The origins of humanity

There is peace waiting at the centre
there is harmony
there is a true merging of all identities
of true equality


but not before

I do my work
my work
of healing my past
the wounds of humanity
the wounds we have inflicted on each other
the pain we have caused ages and ages ago
and that we still cause

The traumas are deep

Yet there are openings
possibilities for change
for healing
for new pathways

Become silent
Listen to black voices
Lift them up
Center them
Do not ignore them

Become humble
and listen

Black liberation is key to the healing
of humanity
and the cosmos

By Joanna, May 2020

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