Eric Garner: I Can’t Breathe: Eleven Times


Imam Zaid Shakir

Posted Posted on 2014-12-13


Like Eric Garner,
I can’t breathe, eleven times…
Maybe because America has stolen my breath,
But how could that be,
America is never guilty of theft.
No stolen labor from chattel slaves,
No stolen land from vanquished braves,
No stolen kingdom called Hawaii…
How could that ever be in the land of the free?
If I can’t breathe it’s not because of anything…
America has done to me.

Like Eric Garner,
I can’t breathe, eleven times…
But my ensuing death is not the ultimate crime,
Because the lack of air has not deprived my spirit of life.
My spirit endures,
And as long as it endures, I have not died,
Guided by the eleven stars that Joseph spied;
Still, I can’t breathe, my body cried…
And there came a reply: the Prophets have not lied.
And beyond the stars, a sun and moon, prostrating unto he,
Who, despite the prison walls, was always free…

Like Eric Garner,
I can’t breathe, eleven times…
And because he was treated like dirt,
Let LeBron, Kobe, and the Georgetown Hoyas…
Wear the shirt,
Let the masses rise in peaceful protest,
Until the source of my unrest is acknowledged by the nation.
Until my haters know why of many liberties I am bereft.
For if America knew she would need no explanation,
She would totally understand…
Why I can’t breathe.

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