Mama, I can’t breathe!


Mama, I can’t breathe!

Why humanistic leaders do not have a discourse based on race.

America was seized by grief over one more demonstration of police brutality, violation of human rights and racial injustice – popularly, racism.

Racism, outdated word.  Who does not remember remote times of slavery when it comes to racism?

Slavery became implicit, we click on it every day with the remote control of our televisions. It has been recycled, changed its name – now called inequality, unemployment, disempowerment, injustice, poverty, hunger, disease, violence, death – turned into the Lernaean Hydra – beheaded one, two are born.

Has racism fallen into discredit without explicit slavery? Racism, that is not exclusive to a single race, but has hung over the head of black populations since Europe ‘discovered’ Africa and called ‘new’ something that has always existed. Who discovered who, anyway?

It did not matter. It never did.

But Africa was not one. There are so many different ethnicities, languages, cultures, societies in Africa.

In anthropology, the term ‘ethnicity’ characterizes a group of individuals united by linguistic, religious and ethical ties, which reproduces their culture to their descendants and occupies territories that enable the continuity of their social relations.

Do you have any idea how many ethnicities there are in the African continent? The numbers are dynamic, but today there are approximately 492 ethnic groups in Africa, who use at least 36 different languages.

Mama, I can’t breathe!

Please, the knee in my neck.

I can’t move.

Mama! Mama!

My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts. Just some water or something, please.

You’re gonna kill me, man.

I cannot breathe.


George Perry Floyd 


The world got down in the mouth – a human being suffocated, in the twilight, on a busy street, at the heart of the 21st century, so cruelly, so harshly, by someone trained to protect.

It has happened so many times, for so many years, in so many places … But this time it ripped the soul, it shocked, it outraged, it hurt, because it happened here, in our neighborhood, and not there.

Which Mama Africa George Floyd called before dying?

He was dying. We call our mothers when we are about to die. It is our last cry.

I don’t know, he spoke English, he lived in America, he was American. It is almost impossible to find out.

Did he call Mama Africa or the white teacher he had at school?

I don’t know, he spoke English, he lived in America, he was American. It is almost impossible to find out.


His skin was black. Afro-descendant would be the politically correct term. Probably, his ancestors came to America as slaves and this defined not only his tragic fate, but also his story. He was born, grown up, learned, lived with the enormous cultural and racial diversity that exists in America. Certainly, his ancestors had a close interaction with white, yellow, red, and for those who believe in aliens and the supernatural, green influences too.

George Floyd’s skin was black, but he also had white, red, yellow and perhaps green genes, memories, stories and loves in the most varied shades.

A lump in the throat, how much outrage, how much pain.


All we know is that George Floyd’s skin was black, he was an Afro-descendant, born in America, native English speaker and had black, white, red, yellow and perhaps green genes, memories, stories and loves in the most varied shades.

All we know is that George Floyd was murdered in the public square, asphyxiated by one knee on the neck, unable to breathe, calling for his mama. Was it a $20 counterfeit bill? Was it personal revenge? Was it the race? Was it gratuitous, institutionalised brutality?

Why is George’s race so different from yours, from mine, from ours?

George had the same black, white, red, yellow and perhaps green genes, memories, stories and loves as all of us.

Portrait by Linsey Levendall


Racism doesn’t make sense, does it? Racism is a disease of the mind.

Only sick people divide themselves into black folks, white folks, yellow folks, red folks and, alternatively but not less important, green folks. We are multicoloured.

When I look up to the speech and message of great humanistic leaders who have lived in this planet, I realize that their discourse was not based on race, although many have suffered atrocious racial segregation.

They talk of diversity, equality, justice, respect, responsibility, education, freedom, autonomy, inclusion, compassion, love. Race never became more than the whole of their black, white, red, yellow and green memories, stories and loves.


I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.


Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.

Martin Luther King Jr.



No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.


As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.

Nelson Mandela



Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.

Mohandas K. Gandhi





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