I Can't Breathe

Five years ago, the nation watched as Eric Garner was murdered at the hands of white police officer Daniel Pantaleo. As Pantaleo used excessive force and had Garner in a chokehold, we all watched as Garner pleaded, I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe.

For years, I’ve followed the work of Erica Garner as she fought for justice for her slain father. She too, lost her life to an unjust system that is racism. Erica Garner, lost her life at the age of 27 as a result of a heart attack. I want to talk about this for a second, because I’m not sure we understand how systematic racism can affect your overall wellness. According to reports from mentalhealthamerica.net, Black Americans of all ages are more likely to be victims of violent crime and adult Black Americans living below the poverty line, are more likely to report serious psychological distress.

In the African American Policy Forum series, Under the Blacklight, they examine the racial trauma that comes with Black people and their experiences with the police. In this episode, #SayHerName, the sisters and mothers of women who have lost their life due to police violence, shared that each and every one of them has experienced health issues after the death's of their loved ones. From medical expenses, sometimes home repairs, funeral costs, court and lawyer fees, in addition to their own declining mental health and ultimately their physical health is jeopardized.

#SayHerName was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, who also defined intersectionality as we know it. The #SayHerName campaign is a call to action for all the Black women who have lost their lives to state violence. Too often, Black women and girls are left out of the conversation. This year, over twenty trans women alone have been murdered by a racist and unjust system of misogyny and white supremacists systems.