We breathe to live.

I have written a lot about the importance of breath.

I have written about breath as a necessity for both life and singing.

I have written about breath as a vehicle of spreading the virus.

I have written about breath as something to be held or taken away in moments of extreme emotion.

To take away one’s breath has another meaning right now.

When I first saw the article about George Floyd on Facebook, I saw the words “I can’t breathe” and thought it was an article about Eric Garner, who also said those words. I didn’t open it because I thought it was an old article and maybe it was the anniversary of his death.

It wasn’t till later in the day that I heard what had happened. And I stayed quiet about it on social media, which is not like me. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. It wasn’t that I hoped it would blow over. I was angry and I knew that this was not going to be wept under the rug again.

I was ashamed.

Not of being white.

Not of being privileged.

I was ashamed because I was raised by people who were willfully ignorant, who were limited by their circumstances of their own upbringing and their own choice to stay that way, who were prejudiced toward anyone who was not Christian, who was not white, and who didn’t stay in their lane. I was raised by people who used racial epithets around the house as easily as they said “Go clean your room.” By people who saw other races/ethnicities as less than in intellect, in beauty, and in moral character. And who were proud of that and of themselves, because they were white people, and therefore superior.

I know where I came from, and I have evolved, but there is that part of me that is afraid that I do not have the right to say anything because I am from that background. That I don’t deserve to speak out.

But I will speak out because we all have to speak out.

Because George Floyd’s last words were:

“I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
They’re going to kill me
Please
I can’t breathe”

We breathe to live.

George Floyd should have been allowed to breathe.

George Floyd should have been allowed to live.

Eric Garner should have been allowed to breathe.

Eric Garner should have been allowed to live.

Breonna Taylor.

Freddie Gray.

Tamir Rice.

Philando Castile.

Botham Jean.

Alton Sterling.

They should all have been allowed to live. And to continue to breathe.

#BlackLivesMatter

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Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

2 thoughts on “We breathe to live.

  1. Your words could be mine – a similar background, and a similar reaction. I have struggled so much with finding words, since they all seem woefully inadequate. Sending love, and wishing all the more we could all meet together in Knoxville this summer.

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