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The H3O/Art of Life Blog

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"Our Daily Blog" #23

"We Can't Breathe: 1444-2020"

By Heru KhepeRa, Omni-U Faculty

To be born human is to be able to take in one’s first breath and breathe deeply into one’s self, soul and spirit. To exit from the human experience is the release of one’s last breath as the soul departs and leaves the body. To have value in between as a human, is to have the freedom of bonding both breathing and breath- to breathe without restraint, compromise or constriction. Breath is a gift given from God that provides a shared human experience of spiritual air and soul space. Breathing is the manifestation and affirmation that “We are One”. Deep breath vibrates as a shared spiritual energy experience that animates and affirms that we are alive. Our African Ancestors gave us “Ubuntu” or guidelines for what it means to be human, a child of God, a human-being. “Ubuntu”, defined, is the expressive capacity to see yourself / oneself in others. The capacity of human-ness, empathy, compassion, mindfulness, value, dignity, respect and reciprocal action. Ubuntu spirituality ethics emphasize, “I am because We all Are.”

1444, 1444, 1444:

Our Ancestors were snatched, captured, cuffed, chained and shackled. Terrorists from foreign lands, brandished weaponry, imposing their will and power through brute force, stripping culture, language and identity. Yoking our necks, restricting, tightening and limiting our lips' sacred ability to practice God’s covenant in human being-ness, for taking in spirit air and uniting soul space. Suddenly, we are placed in tombs, dead air, no space:

We Can’t Breathe

When we were transported to Barracoons, Slave Castles and Ships: When we were exited through the “Doors of No Return” and traveled across the trans-Atlantic in slaver hulls as Black cargo on a Middle Passage journey:

We Couldn't Breathe

When we landed onto the shores of the seasoning centers of the Caribbeans meant to prepare black bodies using torture, trauma, denial and destruction to whatever was left of memory of Africa. To prepare our minds, bodies and spirit for what was ultimately to come in the Americas:

We Couldn’t Breathe

As we were placed onto auction blocks, groped, prodded, violated and reclassified as chattel property and human commodities no longer with value, rather to be used and abused, bought, traded, and sold to the highest bidder:

We Couldn’t Breathe

As we fought back, rebelled and died a thousand Black deaths only to be reborn, re-torn and reformed without sanctuary as Freedmen, mulattos, coloreds, negroes, niggers, zip coons, sambos, and shines:

We Couldn't Breathe

As we battled against the ideology of white supremacy, systems of institutional racism, infrastructures of racial superiority, vestiges of race privilege and hegemony. Indentured, sharecropping, Jim Crow, Code Noir / black codes, debt slavery, chain gangs, convict lease laws, causal killing acts, 100 years of lynching, segregation, voting rights acts, freedom riding, public accommodation acts, school desegregation decrees, mis-education, redlining, blockbusting, racist housing covenants, bombings, bad blood experiments and eugenics. Dred Scott-“No Rights”- decisions, Plessy-“Separate but Equal”- laws, further oppression, stress, depression and continual racial rejection:

We Couldn’t Breathe

As we sought to right ourselves and deal with our cognitive conceptual incarceration within the dually internal warring Selves and Souls of our Black Folk Consciousness, asking, polling, debating, arguing, challenging ourselves to determine “if we are more African or more American":

We Still Couldn’t Breathe

But, as we try to find ourselves, right ourselves, heal ourselves to become whole once again, i.e., to be able to go back to culture and consciousness and reclaim memory, restore voice and retrace the "Stolen Legacies" residing within the dimensions and extensions of our African and American selves: We were not able to breathe our breath without being accosted, attacked and accused of being disrespectful to the norms, dispositions and traditions of American whitenesss:

We Still Can't Breathe

2020, 2020, 2020:

Here we are, more than five hundred years later, still trying to be who God wanted us to be. Trying to be born, not torn. Still trying to breathe. The thermo-dynamic law of breathing says that, “Breath is neither created nor destroyed, just transferred and transformed.” We are still trying to breathe, as human-beings with value, worth, respect, responsibility, opportunity, and full human standing: Still trying to breathe, so we can become what God birthed us to be. The American air-space for breath represents our historic struggle to take in a deep diasporic breath and exercise our inalienable right to breathe. George Floyd’s voice is Our voice. His struggle to breathe is Our struggle to collectively breathe. We are he, and he is Us.

Ubuntu, Ubuntu, Ubuntu.

Suggested Readings

"Stolen Legacy" by George G.M. James

"The Souls of Black Folk" by W.E.B. DuBois

"100 Years of Lynchings" by Ralph Ginzburg

"We Shall Overcome/Lift Every Voice and Sing", performed by Chloe X Halle

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