Words of Fire
8 minutes, 46 seconds that changed the world
On 25th May 2020 the world gasped in outrage at the scenes before us. Nothing happened that day that hadn’t happened before. But this was filmed and the whole world watched in horror as hate triumphed over humanity. No one who witnessed that public lynching could breathe easy. And now we all know it’s time for change
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What People are Saying about I Can’t Breathe
Brilliant and Dazzling Words of Fire
For a people who were denied the opportunity to read and were often forced to speak in a language not our own creating, we have fashioned brilliant and dazzling words of fire and imagination. Joining the mighty chorus, with a virtuoso Jazz performance, Mervyn Weir has expressed our anger, renewed our passion and streamed into our hearts the call - Death to White Supremacy. All hail to Black Life and Black Liberation.
Dr. William Ackah, Birkbeck, University of London
Co-convenor Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion & Race
Eloquent, Piercing Masterpiece
I want to thank the author Mervyn Weir for delivering these intersecting, moving words and images that jump off the page to do its task. The author unapologetically exposes the longstanding global savagery of a whiteness whose quest for power insists on ravaging the lives of black and brown bodies. He eloquently illuminates those liberatory voices that have always challenged this violence as resilient, insistent and brave. This is an eloquent, piercing masterpiece that should be read by all!
Dr. Val Bernard-Allan
Mervyn Weir's book, 'I Can't Breathe' is an explosive and poignant text
It is explosive in that it seeks to give expression to the visceral anger felt by subtaltern voices across the world in light of the brutal murder of George Floyd. It is poignant because this is no arid piece of agitpop. Rather, its combination of lyrical writing and arresting visuals, drenches the reader in a shower of emotions, detailing the power of resistance to White supremacy across several centuries. 'I Can't Breathe' is a must read for those seeking an accessible means of entering into the anti-colonial struggle of dethroning Whiteness.
Anthony G. Reddie, Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Culture, Regent's Park College, The University of Oxford. He is also an Extraordinary Professor with the University of South Africa.
Powerful, Thought-provoking and Stimulating
I Can’t Breathe addresses possibly the most powerful and explosive media and social media event since 9/11 – the death of George Floyd. No individual piece of social media footage has had more impact “on how people think about themselves” and on how other people see Black people than this event.
I Can’t Breathe creatively combines poetry and images to confront this and other controversial issues. It is powerful, thought provoking and discussion stimulating. Everyone should read it, but teachers in particular will find a rich and topical resource to engage their students. At a time when many are calling to decolonise the curriculum, this could be an ideal place to start.
Robin Walker, (The Black History Man)
The Content is as Inspiring as it is Educative
This powerful, informative, creative, emotive work by Mervyn Weir is a lesson in history spanning centuries and geographies. Yet it speaks to today, right where we are, right now. The content is as inspiring as it is educative. Weir expertly weaves the past and the present, the ‘over there’ and the ‘here’, in ways that show how interlinking strands contribute to a pattern of systemic racism reaching across centuries and continents. In this epic poem Weir, through his words and artistry, calls us to be educated to the realities of systemic racism, to reflect, to pray, yes. But also to act. We all can, and must, do something.
Barbara Graham Ph.D., M.A., B.Ed,
Freelance Education Consultant
‘I Can’t Breathe’ is a timely poetic intervention into the struggle for racial justice in the black Atlantic
It is explosive in that it seeks to give expression to the visceral anger felt by subtaltern voices across the world in light of the brutal murder of George Floyd. It is poignant because this is no arid piece of agitpop. Rather, its combination of lyrical writing and arresting visuals, drenches the reader in a shower of emotions, detailing the power of resistance to White supremacy across several centuries. 'I Can't Breathe' is a must read for those seeking an accessible means of entering into the anti-colonial struggle of dethroning Whiteness. With candour and clarity the narrative weaves its way through centuries of black pain, but it does not stop there. Like all prophetic speech, the writer seeks to envision a new world order in which black flesh is beyond suspicion and unencumbered, fulfils its potential.
Robert Beckford, Professor of Black Theology, The Queen’s Foundation
The killing of George Floyd provokes remembrance of the historic wrongs done to Black people over 400 years
Mervyn Weir draws attention to the plight of American Indians and indentured labourers ( 'coolies') who likewise endured centuries of injustice. Weir, however, is not backward-looking. His book ends with a passionate and heartfelt plea for action to remedy the naked and shameless racism which killed George Floyd. 'What matters most/is what we do next/after we have vented our rage/after the last protest is done/and the media has moved on'. He has thrown down a gauntlet, which we are bound to pick up!
Emeritus Professor David Dabydeen (University of Warwick)
Director, Ameena Gafoor Institute for the Study of Indentureship and its Legacies