As nation grapples with immense anger after witnessing the horrific and disturbing video of a policeman with his knee pressed firmly down on an unarmed black man's neck for nearly eight minutes — pleading with officers, telling them "I can't breathe" — a 12-year-old boy performed an emotional song that serves as a haunting reminder of what's at stake for black men in America.
George Floyd, 46, died soon after he was arrested by Minneapolis police on suspicion of allegedly passing counterfeit money at a local convenience store on Monday, according to the Star Tribune. On Tuesday, four Minneapolis police officers were fired and Floyd's family has called for them to be arrested and charged with murder. "Those officers they're at home sleeping. Nah, I can't stand for that," Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd told CNN. "They need to be locked up tonight. I want justice. Arrest those officers so my family and the world can have closure."
In the wake of Floyd's death, 12-year-old gospel singer Keedron Bryant has joined the chorus of protesters with a song he called "I Just Wanna Live." The song is simple and gut-wrenching as he sings: "I'm a young black man/ Doing all that I can/ To stand." He goes on to sing that he felt "Every day/ I'm being hunted as prey... My people don’t want no trouble / We’ve had enough struggle / I just want to live."
The heartbreaking song has gone viral, moving people as protests have broken out following Floyd's death.
The Jacksonville, Florida native competed on the NBC talent show Little Big Shots and is clearly an incredibly gifted singer. But his song is going viral for more than just his voice; it's the heartbreaking message behind it that has hundreds of thousands of people listening across social media. On Instagram, his video of him singing has over 1.7 million views.
"Thank you Keedron Bryant," one viewer tweeted. "And I’m so sorry we live in a country where any 12 year old would need to write such an achingly beautiful song." Another wrote, ""My God...the fact that Keedron Bryant, a 12 yo Black boy so searingly sings about the trauma inflicted upon Black America & just wanting to live is haunting. Our children don't deserve this pain and this fear."
Keedron's song comes after decades of systemic racism and violence against black men. Men like Philando Castile, who was shot and killed in 2017 in Minnesota during a traffic stop. Or the brutal killing of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 by officers in the LAPD. Or the fatal choke-hold of Eric Garner in New York in 2014.
Keedron shared on Instagram that the inspiration behind his beautiful song that's reached millions of people came from his heart. "Just singing what’s on my heart," he wrote. "Hope this blesses someone."