The Block Where All the White People Live

Context:

The South Bronx is notorious for its high rates of asthma among racial minorities as a result of their proximity to sources of air pollution. The combination of the poverty-stricken area and historical displacement exposes people of color to health hazards that are rooted in discrimination and negligence. Gentrification in the South Bronx has further perpetuated health discrimination among people of color residing in areas that are transformed into spaces for toxic waste.

 

The toxic facility is sitting on my lungs
I never slept with my mouth closed

Teach me

Teach me how to exhale the
White supremacy sitting on the throne of this toxic facility

Maybe then I can breathe a little.

Teach me

Teach me how to inhale the

support, love, and comfort in this crowded rat-ridden tenement

Maybe then I can breathe a little.

I walk over to the next block where all the white people live
And I can finally breathe

 

I
Can
Fucking
Breathe.

Fresh trees, fresh air,
Fresh parks, and fresh buildings

No trash, no diesel,

No rats, and no smoke

My lungs are expanding
I’m not wheezing
I can run
I can fucking run God

But this is not my block.

This is the block where all the white people live.
This is the block where businesses bloom
Where parks are welcoming
Where the sky is clear as ever.

This is the block where you can feel the sun glistening off your skin
Where you can take a long deep breath
Where you can exhale without feeling your lungs tighten up.

This is the block where I can breathe through my nose.

But I’m sorry.
I forget.

 

This is not my block.

 

Image by Sarah Karlan

By Sabrina Sultana

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