I Can’t Breathe

At a time of global pandemic, it is telling to see the large gatherings of protestors across America. Personal safety has been thrown aside in a quest for justice.

The deep upset and anger caused by the death of George Floyd has been felt far and wide, and it’s certainly not just African Americans that can sympathise with the systemic ill-treatment of their people. Soumik Datta a Bengali-born, British Indian musician and composer has written a poem which captures his feelings, not only about racism but about his personal experiences at the hands of prejudiced bullies.

I’ve been feeling so weird all week
A strange kind of numbness,
Thinking about why these childhood
Memories have washed up,
Like garbage on a beach…

Sure, I was punched and kicked and
Called a ‘Paki’
I cleaned floors that were not mine,
Woke up to buckets of ice
In the dead of night,
Gave my wallet to bigger kids who
Spat in my face,
But none of that stung
Nearly as much as the time my
Mind joined in the battle against me
And suddenly it was easier…

To see why
I couldn’t
Hang with those other kids,
Why I couldn’t play on that team,
Why I was happy to come second and
Stand behind them,
The Asian

It’s fine, I thought,
Being the subject
Of other people’s jokes
Hell, I found it funny too
To laugh at myself, against myself, at
Punchlines about ‘Pakis’, about people like
My Mum and my Dad, who had
worked and Worked and struggled and
Crossed oceans
Giving up everything
To find their children

That guy in my head grew
Louder and Stronger
Fed by the illness in my brain,
And it made me do things to myself
To fit in.
To belong.
To accept and
Move on.
Scars that will always remain
Beneath the melanin
And my pain,
That will forever
Be there
Invisible to your

I see it now
Racism is an illness,
A spineless virus crawling
In the minds of oppressors and bullies,
In the silence of the apathetic
In the hearts of those who learn to cope
By laughing along with a joke
Until it’s not funny anymore
And a white knee is pressed down on a
Black neck for
8 minutes and
46 seconds
Then cities burn
And fires rise
And the whole world

“I Can’t Breathe”

#alllivesmatter #blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd

Streets after riots protesting the death of George Floyd
Soumik Datta

Soumik is a Bengali-born British Indian musician and composer, who specialises in the sarod. He was trained in the sarod by Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta, and studied at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, graduating in 2009 with an MMus in Composition. In 2006 he was invited by Jay-Z to play at the Royal Albert Hall and performed on stage with Beyonce. Soumik has contributed to the musical scores of the films like Brick Lane, Life Goes On, Gangs of Tooting Broadway.