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“I am a warrior and music is my weapon,” India Arie declares before telling the audience to pay close attention to the lyrics of her song “Breathe” at Monday night’s #BWAY4BLM event at Columbia University in NYC.

The song was released last year in January, inspired by Eric Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” uttered just before NYPD officers put him in a fatal choke hold during an arrest that ended his life in July of 2014.

“All Lives Matter yes, but it’s a shame we still have to remind people that black lives matter too,” she states. This song is her form of resistance, it’s also her form of healing.

“Continue to breathe, Continue to breathe. In times like these that’s what your heart is for,” she sings. “Continue to breathe, Continue to breathe. In honor of your brother that’s what your heart is for.”

I found myself crying the second time as they repeated the chorus, “continue to breathe.” Those words- a simple action, packed with so much emotion. As a community often times we are filled with an overwhelming sense of grief and hopelessness when acts of blatant violence are inflicted upon our bothers and sisters. Sometimes, like the song suggests, we forget to breathe.

I continue, and I hope you do too, to breathe for our fallen brothers and sisters whose lives were taken from them. Breathe, for the little child you might see in the park, praying they can be a kid a little while longer. Breathe, for the young woman you might see get pulled over, hoping she makes it home safely.

We breathe for one another. We breathe because, despite everything, we are still here. We breathe because that’s exactly what the heart is for. Let us use it.

Thank you India Arie for reminding us.

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