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I Can’t Breathe..!

I Can’t Breathe..!

Even as I hear the dying cry of George Floyd gasping, ‘I can’t breathe!’ I wonder who it is that cannot breathe? Is it the black minority that gasps under the weight of a white majority? Or is it the white majority that sees African Americans enjoying their same freedom and are stifled with anger, struggling to accept the equality, the law has given them?

Many years back in college, some seniors thought a junior was easy prey too. One day while sitting alone in the car park, I saw a bunch of these bullies approaching a junior student. This was ragging time for juniors who had just entered the prestigious college. They started demeaning him, and suddenly in the middle of the insults, things changed. What the seniors didn’t know was that the junior was a black belt in karate. Before you could say, “Jack Robinson’ or it’s Indian equivalent, he had laid low all four of them.

But that’s when the trouble started. The seniors were furious. False complaints were filed against the junior, and the principal was told that it was unprovoked violence, that the junior student should be expelled. As the only witness, I went to see the principal and explained what had actually happened, and the student was not thrown out.

“Why did you make false allegations?” I asked the four who had been soundly thrashed.

“How dare a junior fight back?” they all asked.

And therein lies the problem. The junior was part of the minority. He was supposed to take the ragging, beg for mercy, and accept any tit bits of mercy thrown to him. He was not expected to behave like an equal.

All majorities expect this. “We will allow you to live with us, but always remain grateful!”

“What does that mean?”

“That you don’t protest if we get better jobs, if we are treated above you, and if you are second class citizens!”

And the minorities protest. “We are all equal!”

“No you are not!”

“The law says we are!”

And the majority shout, and yell and scream, “The law! The constitution! It’s stifling us! We can’t breathe!”

Yes, it may have been George Floyd you saw on the video crying, “I can’t breathe!” but it’s many in the white majority in America, many in other countries with a majority from one religion or other, who feel stifled, and breathless when others try to share the air of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity that the law and their Constitution provides for them!

Look again at the video. Is it the voice of George Floyd, or that of yours, crying out, “I can’t breathe?”, because you refuse to share your space, your country, your office, your home, with someone from another community, religion, colour or race?

If it is, then you better get your knee off, before you lose the very white house you think of as home..!  

( bobsbanter@gmail.com )

(Published on 8th June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 24)