“In Inhale” by Professor Regina Bernard

Y’all might recall Professor Regina Bernard’s powerful essay, “Why We Can’t Breathe,” about George Floyd’s murder.  Here’s a recent essay, “In Inhale,” about Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction.  Both were published in  433.

“In Inhale” by Regina Bernard-Carreno

“I sit in the same room where last year, on my little TV, I watched the murder of George Floyd. A year later, on that same TV, a reporter reads the headline: the man who murdered him has been found guilty.

It still hurts when I breathe. I try to push past the tightness lodged in my chest. A year ago, among the numerous outrages, I wrote in this same magazine of more horrors to come. Since that gruesome display of power and cowardice, there have been too many more. Ones I would surely miss if I stood to count them. Fathers, women, pillars of the community—a thirteen-year-old child. All gone, plucked from the ruthlessness of the society they left behind. I can only feel my stillness, and then I know it’s real.

In my inhale, I worry for the children who stand to bear witness to our inhumanity. We are failing them. Instead of picket fences, asphalt playgrounds, scraped knees, and popsicles in the summer, we have exposed them to violence against members of their communities. And they have seen that communal pain unleash worldwide fury and indignation. We have come to rely on the evidence gathered by schoolchildren to save the soul of a nation whose highest ideals have always been subsumed by the soulless, the heartless, the painful acts of our history—ideals dependent on being rooted in a soil of historical amnesia. We have muted their shrills of joy and replaced them with screams of defiance. No time to teach a sweet berceuse because the mantra of protest songs soothes better. We have left Dae’Anna, Erica, Gianna – the youngest of George’s five – Daunte Jr., and countless others, without a father. We have shown the mothers of fallen sons how devalued their kin have become, that they must be reminded to demand that others know their lives matter. We have murdered caregivers, guardians, and all chances at proper love…”

You can read the entire essay in 433.