I can’t breathe

I couldn’t breathe when you uprooted me
To the shores of an alien land 
Shackled on boats 400 years back
From the cradle of humanity

I couldn’t breathe when you worked me to death 
In the sugar and cotton plantations
So that you could colonise the “new world”
The land of the Algonquian and Iroquois

I couldn’t breathe when you declared independence
After a revolutionary war against your fellow brothers
In the name of liberty, justice and pursuit of happiness
Only, it was not my liberty and happiness

I couldn’t breathe when you fought amongst yourselves
To settle a quarrel about what was the better way
To keep me in shackles and exploit my labor
In my name for sure, but perhaps not for me

I couldn’t breathe when you measured my skull
To determine the scientific basis of my inferiority  
To subjugate me, the creator of human civilisation
As you made war in your civilisation

I couldn’t breathe when you lynched me 
And hanged me on trees by the thousands
On balmy Sunday afternoons with lemonade in hand 
For letting my shadow fall on your bodies

I couldn’t breathe when I sat on the bus
Next to you, on seats made from the same wood
Sharing the same cytoplasm and mitochondria
With melanin that protects me from radiation, but not your gaze

I couldn’t breathe when one of my own
Became the most powerful person on earth
Political power means nothing 
When collective minds are burdened with centuries of hate

All I want is to be free, to be equal, to pursue happiness 
To partake in this meaningless cosmic experience that is life
I try hard, but I can’t breathe still
Perhaps, I never will.

I can’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe when you uprooted me, To the shores of an alien land. Shackled on boats 400 years back, From the cradle of humanity. Share on X

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Chirasree Banerjee

Hello. My name is Chirasree. I have been traveling for almost 11 years to places all over the world. I enter into a separate reality during my travels and enjoy the allure of escape from the mundane. I seek beauty through nature and human-made creations. Because beauty is powerful. I seek knowledge. I observe, absorb, and write about the places I visit and the profound realizations and inspirations that each place has to offer.