I’m a young black male in a society that seems to not value people who look like me;

I am aghast when I see violence against young brown-skinned boys by police brutality.

I’m confused, sad, bewildered, puzzled… aren’t the officers in blue suppose to Serve and Protect;

Who’s protecting me from the violence…seems more like neglect.

I can’t breathe!

On the computer there are stories about Trayvon Martin who held nothing but skittles and iced tea;

How did Zimmerman get away with making Trayvon the perpetrator on TV?

Michael Brown had both of his hands in the air surrendering, some witnesses say;

But that would be the last moment of his life as his body lay in the street for more than 4 hours that day.

Obeying universal rules and buying snack,

Doesn’t make sense to shoot someone in the back,

This is making me sad, angry and confused,

Of this really twisted unexplained news.

I can’t breathe!

Tamir Rice was only 12 years old like me, how could he be gone so early and so violently;

He never got a chance to say I’m a just a kid playing in the park, please don’t hurt me.

Eric Garner’s last words ring in my ears as I try to make sense of the violence against black youth like me;

Can’t you see that I can’t breath. Give me space, Hear my words, Get to know who I am and you will see.

Choking someone to death is extreme,

And even more so… killing a tween!

This makes me devastated, enraged and perplexed

And it makes me think…it could happen to me next.

I can’t breathe!

They think, boys like me with dark colored skin

In a hoodie with some friends is a sin;

Some White police officers are not understanding;

That negative stereotype is not upstanding.

BANG! BANG! BANG! the shots would ring out

One by one…

Not even realizing what they had done.

They think, “whoops another dumb boy was killed”

“He’s probably been smoking weed with a gun, another job fulfilled.”

I can’t breathe! Do you even know who I am?

I am a gifted ‘A’ student, I am a talented actor, I am a brilliant pianist;

I am a great athlete with goals and dreams of one day being a neuroscientist.

The actions of a few create unrest, mistrust, division and affect us all; Give young black boys and opportunity to succeed and fail, but pick us up when we fall.

Don’t make judgments, don’t assume, don’t stereotype because it often ends badly for young black boys;

Nonviolent protest, education, and know our words are not just loud noise.

I can’t breathe…


About the author:

The author is Thomas (Trace) Baxley, a 12 year-old sixth grader at Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida.