I Can’t Breathe – How Do I A Black Mother Find the Words

I can’t breathe.

I’m sick to my stomach.

My heart hurts.

I can’t breathe because I get choked up every time I think about it. I can’t breathe because I’m suffocating under the weight of it all. Not again. How do I, a mother, a BLACK mother find the words, the breath? How do I find a way to tell my beautiful brown girl that another beautiful brown girl won’t be seeing her dad again. That the very same people who are sworn to protect us are the ones who took that little girl’s daddy’s breath away?

I find the breath, the words, I find the strength to share that yet another person of color has been subject to the hate that continues to take our breath away. 

I’m sick to my stomach over those who would turn a peaceful stand in solidarity with the Floyd family into a violent, angry display that further divides us. This divides us at a time when we are already so isolated. I’m sick of the racial divide that continues to threaten the open, judgment-free mindset in which I choose to raise my daughter.

My heart hurts for this loss, like a mama that lost her son too soon.

We are a sisterhood of mamas, and I think we collectively feel the pain. My heart hurts like there is a part of us missing that we can never get back.  My heart hurts for the girl who won’t get to say “Happy Father’s Day”  to her dad. My heart hurts for a society so frustrated that they feel that violence is their only recourse. 

The tragic death of George Floyd is outrageous and deplorable to many of us. Not only because of its heinously violent nature or because it came at the hands of the very people who are charged to protect us, but because it’s not the first time. Over and over again, I’ve had to look on in disgust at the senseless violence that has fallen on so many young people and raise my girl to feel confident when going out into the world, even if it’s cautious confidence. I’ve had to keep that confidence and faith myself. Unfortunately, I’ve also had to talk to my 16-year old nephew about the real and present danger that exists in the world simply because of his gender and the color of his skin.

I’ve had to teach them both that not everyone handles tragic situations in the most constructive way.

For those so frustrated by the events of May 25 that you feel the need to turn to violence, please remember the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

The only way to make this situation better, to effect change is to be the change ourselves. If you feel the need to cry, cry. If you feel the need to scream, scream. If you want to hold those you love close to you, give them the biggest hug possible. And if you want to see change, demand it from some members of our police departments and our governments and foster it in ourselves and our loved ones

Be the change you want to see in the world. 

And breathe.

Sheriss is the founder of Tampa Bay Moms Blog and works full-time as a middle school special educator. Born and raised in the Tampa Bay area, she and her husband Johnny have lived in Boston, MA and Atlanta, GA, before once again calling Tampa home. They welcomed their sweet and high-spirited daughter Harper into the family in 2010. In her free time, Sheriss loves day-tripping, lazy evenings at the beach, searching for and discovering new adventures to go on with her family around the Bay area.


  1. I enjoyed your article. All of what you say is true. Always remember that arguing with individuals who are committed to misinterpreting and misunderstanding every call for equality and fairness is pointless. Pray for them. Appeal to heaven. Ask the Lord God for His wisdom and guidance in how to proceed in words and actions. Let nothing move you outside of the Lord’s peace that surpasses all earthly understanding. May everyone be comforted and sustained by the hand of the Lord.

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