Saturday, June 19, 2021, we were honored to host a Juneteenth celebration at Nightingale Community Garden in Dorchester. The crowd enjoyed an address from Mayor Kim Janey, spoken word from local poet Natasha Nicole, Nigerian food and ice cream from Black-owned businesses, and music by The COMP, or The Cultures of Mixed People, a local band of mixed-race musicians that come together to uplift mixed-race identity/struggles. Nightingale is a thriving garden with a deeply committed, diverse community of gardeners and neighbors, and it was moving and powerful to celebrate together.
Please revisit the wonderful gathering through pictures and the words of Natasha Nicole’s poem, Just Let Me Breathe, which she has generously allowed us to share.
Just Let Me Breathe
Written by Natasha Nicole Goss
The breath of life was placed in me,
but I can’t breathe when I continuously see,
men and women being gunned down because of the color of the skin,
being harassed, stalked, and made to feel less then
who God made them to be.
I Can’t Breathe when the only lives that seem to matter
are the ones that look nothing like me
and I’m told to be compliant in a noncompliant society.
I Can’t Breathe when I hear words of hate spew from children’s mouths,
too young to even know what they’re talking about,
but mommy and daddy taught them well
so, they can’t tell what’s wrong or right.
I Can’t Breathe when I’m followed or ignored in a store,
looked at suspiciously as soon as I walk through the door,
assumed I’m there to rob or loiter or cause trouble at best,
escorted out by police and placed under arrest.
I Can’t Breathe when black men are chased down and killed in the park
for doing nothing wrong, simply taking a jog.
I Can’t Breathe when I have to teach my grandson how to respond to a cop,
to slowly raise his hands and announce his actions to avoid being shot.
I Can’t Breathe when white privilege continues to be ignored and accepted,
when its mere existence is denied and undetected by the very ones
that benefit from the harm that’s done
to people of color.
I Can’t Breathe when I’m called an angry black woman
for vocalizing my opinion and opposition
towards racist remarks in the workplace,
microaggressions that are laughed away
as if they’re not serious enough to address
until there becomes some civil unrest like now.
I’m angry and I won’t be able to breathe
until every person of non-color agrees that me
and my black skin deserves to live and thrive within
this society, this country that claims to be free,
this world that my ancestors contributed to with their blood, sweat and tears.
WE ARE HERE!
And we’re not going away,
no matter how many of our lives you continue to take.
Just. Let. Me. Breathe.