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Poetry : I Can’t Breathe -By Jasper Sammon

Kneeling, kneeling and praying for the lost souls of injustice,

Kneeling on a football field to show a nation that change is needed.

Kneeling on the neck of a man who you THINK is wrong for the color of his skin.

“I can’t breathe” George Floyd said,

“You’re killing me” George Floyd said.

But racism, prejudice and bigotry deafened Derek Chauvin’s ears that day.

George could not breathe, but Derek could not hear.

Or maybe, he chose not to hear.

But he could touch, he could touch a man’s neck with his knee.

He could cover a man’s mouth and silence him because of the color of his skin.

Not all cops are bad?

Well maybe not all black people are thugs.

Maybe not all protesters are looters.

Maybe just maybe,

You choose to sit back and disapprove because you never have felt that prejudice.

You have never felt the racism that black people have felt.

You have never been scared for your life when you hear sirens

and have done nothing wrong.

You have never feared for your life when you are pulled over

and hate is in the hands and knees of that cop.

I have not either. I have felt white male privilege, but now I kneel.

Kneeling, kneeling now

in the name of George Floyd with eyes wide open

With fists unclenched

With ears uncovered

With a mouth preaching “Black Lives Matter.”


Jasper was 13 (almost 14) and inspired by reading the work of Kwame Alexander in 7th grade. As a basketball player, he loved Kwame’s stories, but it also made him less afraid of writing poetry. Deeply affected by the death of George Floyd, he wrote this free verse poem to share as his final assignment for English class in June 2020. Jasper is the son of Michelle and John Sammon III of Clinton.

Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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