Hi, my name is Brett Howard. I'm happy to take part in the Movement for Change, which is benefiting Campaign Zero. I would like to share with you some words and some thoughts of mine. "I can't breathe." These are words that George Floyd said repetitively, as life was slowly taken away from him. It is difficult to imagine the fear that was racing through his mind as this was happening to him.
But sadly, it is a fear that many others, and I can imagine an empathize with. Black people all too often have these moments of fear that our lives can be taken at any minute, while driving through a certain neighborhood, even if it is our own, while taking a leisurely job or watching Central Park, eating lunch on park bench, playing in a playground. I often start work at 6:00 AM, and while walking to work, I'm not fearful of being mugged, I'm fearful that someone might find me threatening and called the police on me. During these moments, like these, it is very hard to breathe. A few years back, I was walking from my studio to the gym and while it was passing the train station, I was stopped by a police.
White woman had been assaulted a few days prior on the train and the police were stuffing every black male that happened to walk by the station to interrogate them. Every black person is told as a child, what to do with this scenario one day it presents itself, no matter how unfair the situation or how rude or aggressive police may become, your tone is important and needed to try to keep our cool and stay level headed. I was shown a picture of a young black man and the police said, this looks a lot like you. The young man looked nothing like me, he must have been at least 25 years younger, had a completely different facial features from mine and much darker skin tone than mine. My breath was taken away from me.
It was that this moment that something, sunk in, no matter how educated I might be, no matter my upbringing, no matter my accomplishments and no matter my contributions that I've made to society, in many circumstances, I will be judged and defined only by the color of my skin. The worst part of the story is that a few weeks prior to this incident, I had been pick-pocketed on that very same train line. When I went to the port authority police to report it, I was treated rudely and with such disregard. I'm a moral person, I'm a law abiding citizen, I'm a person who pays taxes, I contribute to society and I am a person who follows the rules. Why was my concern not given the same amount of attention?
In essence, I was being told to know my place, but this is not my place, nor should it be anyone's, no one should be treated as a second class citizen. These scenarios play out all too often, it is frequent that I feel as if I am not breathing. Breath is freedom of the airflow. All black people are asking for us to feel free and we just want to breathe. We need to be a part of a movement, change happened, when we all work together, let's find the solutions, let's do something about it now.
Everyone should be allowed to breathe. Thank you.