THE BLOG
12/04/2014 07:53 am ET Updated Feb 03, 2015

On Being Breathless

More sirens than usual tonight. They're the only thing slicing through the silence. Because tonight, as my children sleep and I try to settle down for the evening...

I can't breathe.

I can't cry.

And I can't turn my mind off.

Now, let's get something cleared up right now: where my piece for CNN exposed my inner conflict about the outcome of the Ferguson Grand Jury, there is no confusion in my heart or mind or conscience tonight.

There is video of Eric Garner being placed in a chokehold by an officer in a jurisdiction where chokeholds are not allowed. A coroner ruled Eric Garner's death murder. And yet, the officer responsible remains free and un-indicted.

Free to see his loved ones. To catch a movie. To take in a game.

To breathe.

But I can't.

The heaviness of the reality that no matter which schools I send my children to, no matter which organizations and activities I force them into, or which circles I fight to keep them out of, their skin could make them a threat is inescapable tonight.

Because where there may have been hope and understanding and empathy before, there is none tonight. All there is tonight is the cold truth that one day my son could still possibly be seen as a threat simply because he breathes.

And that takes my breath away.

And because I'm all cried out over Trayvon and Tamir. Oscar and Jonathan. I have no tears left tonight.

There's no feigned shock. No forced surprise or mild disappointment.

Just thick air. Deafening silence. And the weight of generations of false hope of equality sitting on my chest, on my shoulders, preventing me from breathing.

One day I'll sit my beautiful brown babies down and tell them the awful, ugly truth about this land of the free and home of the brave. And I'll watch as tears well up in their eyes and listen as they fight to breathe.

And then I'll have to kiss them up, dry their faces, and send them off into the same world I've warned them of. The same society that tells them in equal parts you can have anything your work for as long as you don't intimidate or threaten or scare anyone simply by being you. Simply by breathing.

And even now, though that moment is a few years away yet, I. Cannot. Breathe.

And though my eyes sting, the tears don't come.

Because try as I might to believe otherwise, my heart knew long before my logic that this was the society in which I lived. That tonight, this decision, was always a real possibility.

And the burning reality of that fact leaves me gasping for air. Waiting for a saving grace. Something to right the wrongs, to restore our hope, to refuel our faith.

Instead we sit. And we gasp. And we search. Because here, in this U.S. of A. it can be deadly for us to breathe.