Stephany Rose Can't Breathe

I can’t breathe beneath your thinly veiled layers of allyship. The pleasure of your centered acquaintance does not meet my experiences with pain. You stand tugging at solidarity, holding onto everything but the life-lived burden. I am not unable to choose when and where I enter this war, nor for how long.

I can’t breathe with your need to be needed. Your fragility chokes my determination to be honest, clear and direct. When I inhale, I don’t want to need your support. Thus, I am fighting this war to dissolve your privileged space and reality; you, however, are here believing that doing good with your privileges is enough. Utter human dignity, maintained through self-actualization and justice abolishes alliance making.  

I can’t breathe caught up in the echoes of your screams to be the loudest voice. Your body is not the shield of protection I asked for and your sympathetic pity is not the ointment to my wounds. I do not wish to trade pain for pain, but my gain must be your loss.

I can’t breathe believing that building alliances is the long-term, sustainable goal. If I were respected, regarded, loved enough for my humanity, I would not need your privileged body next to me propping me up, stifling the air with the need to recognize your good intentions. Be in alliance with eliminating my need for you.

I can’t breathe…


Stephany Rose is Assistant Professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

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