I Can’t Breathe

The terrible murder of George Floyd at the hands of four members of the Minneapolis police is merely the drop to spill over a glass full of permanent structural violence against the African American population in the United States of America. The protests unleashed are an expression of enormous despair in the face of constant, lifelong grievances against the African American population in that country.

The United States is the country with the most incarcerated people in the world, among whom the African American population is much higher than the white population. This, despite the fact that approximately 75% of the population in the United States is white and only 14% is African American.

According to a study published in June 2016 by Ashley Nellis, an analyst and researcher at The Sentencing Project, for every white person in prison, there are 5.1 African American people incarcerated. In five states, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin, there are 10 African Americans in prison for every white person. That is a ratio of 10-to-1. In 11 states, 1 in 20 African American males is in prison, and in Oklahoma, 1 in 15 African American men over the age of 18.

According to the aforementioned study, this policy of sanctioning and imprisoning African Americans causes serious additional consequences and collateral damage. Examples include instability and ruptures among families of the incarcerated, damage to the morale of children of incarcerated people, social stigmatization and enormous difficulties in finding employment once out of prison. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for the African American population in the United States is double that of the white population.

The murder of Floyd, aggravated by malice and privilege, is yet another example of terrible aggression and the submission of an entire population clearly identifiable by the color of their skin.

In reality, then, there is a regime disguised as a democracy, wherein systematic oppression and domination are exerted by a significant percentage of a white racial group over another, African American one.

The motive is the preservation of a nation that fails to detach itself from the ancient practice of apartheid, now a crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Which, needless to say, has not been ratified by the U.S. government.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Jesus Torres Gomez, professor at the International School of Law and Jurisprudence.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 69 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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