August 28th, 2020, the 58th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream" speech. Millions across the globe will be marching in hopes that this generation will further realize King’s dream, echoing one of the chants, “I can’t breathe.”
At any given point in history there are certain words & phrases that give a name to the thing we are going through. They give voice to the soul of a community or a nation. The words, “I can’t breathe,” has become one of those statements for many. It is both a cry of mourning and a cry of outrage for those reeling from the racial injustice of black men and women who have been wrongly struck down by corrupt law enforcement in America. Some of those names are Eric Garner, Javier Ambler, Manuel Ellis, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Jacob Blake.
When these words are spoken you can almost feel the bass notes; it’s as if they are strumming inside. Mostly, people are breathless at the sheer terror of what the words represent: human life being wrongly strangled by corrupt law enforcement officers who have sworn an oath to defend and protect. Of course, as strong as these words are, they don’t resonate the same with everyone. There are many different perspectives: some are racist, some can only see the hijacking of a news cycle by a political agenda of what they refer to as the left, and others are unsure of what to do with it all. Even if you don’t agree with the movement of people who are frustrated with racial inequality, you can’t neglect how important these words have become to many.
Breath is something none of us should take for granted.
The first time I stepped foot in a brick kiln I literally “could not breathe.” It was over 100 degrees outside as we approached a smoke stack positioned in the center of the brick kiln where hundreds of men, women, and children were hand-making bricks in the clay and carrying them to the 900 degree pollution-excreting machine. The wind was blowing. Open coal being burned without filtration had put a black smog in the air so thick it seemed like you could climb on it. It felt like I was sitting in a small room with a diesel engine, its overwhelming presence opposed all that is natural in creation as it sucked the oxygen out of the air. Having traveled the world, nothing I have experienced has come close to this. Yet, for millions of people who call brick kilns their home, they have never been able to truly breathe.
As a result, brick kiln workers don’t stand a chance against lung infections. In March 2020 after speaking to a group of more than 500+ brick kiln workers, my friend (who is medically trained) and I were asked to provide medical attention to more than 20+ infants clearly showing signs of lung infection. We did all we could to help them, but how do you treat lung infections when the air is filled with the black smog of open coal? You can’t. These precious people are forced to work and live in this environment with little hope of change.
We are here to say that there IS hope. All People Free is on a mission to liberate those who are trapped in this system of oppression called bonded labor. Modern day slavery still exists, and it needs to come to an end.
Do all people deserve to breathe fresh air as free people? We think so. Please join us today in helping liberate, educate, and invest in sustainable change for women and children in the brick kilns. Join us in helping restore their hope and their breath.