#SandraBland is Dead. So Am I. And So Are You.
Sandra Bland haunts me day and night. From the moment her story streamed my timeline, I was captivated and alarmed even though the theme was grotesquely familiar. #BlackLivesMatter became a resounding anthem, a response to the chaos and mayhem that has consistently populated the nation with the senseless killings of young black men like Trayvin Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and countless others. But I will admit that Sandra Bland’s case hits a little too close to home.
I am #SandraBland, granted she is considerably younger than me but aside from that, I relate to her wholeheartedly. I’m also college educated, prone to bouts of depression and ambitious. And I can certify that if I had been aggressively pulled over by a State Trooper, my reaction would have mimicked hers. And it wouldn’t have had anything to do with my occasional bouts of suicidal tendencies; it would have been based solely on the fact that this person of authority was being a certified asshole
Anyone who has seen the video, can’t possibly imagine that Bland, a 28-year-old who had just accepted a job offer and was headed to assume her responsibilities would stoically comply after being dangerously forced off the road, uncharacteristically detained and then smugly ordered to stop smoking in her own car. But unfortunately the system has been rigged to afford people of color zero rights. We are not allowed to display any emotions because our basic human rights haven’t yet been released to us. Bland was supposed to just sit there and take it.
I’m glad she was intelligent enough to realize that even though she was being interrogated about a traffic violation, it didn’t warrant the mistreatment she was being subjected to. The bully towering over her car, peering and hovering, trying desperately to find anything to implicate her was frustrated that he was sparring with someone above is pay grade. But even more telling was his resolve to make her pay for the fact that her brain cells were way more active than his. How dare a black woman who he assumed he had leverage over, sass him in such a disarmingly way. She was dead meat the moment she refused to put out her cigarette.
Officer Robert Encina was heated. He knew he was wrong but he was determined to exert his power because Sandra Bland was a black woman. How dare she reduce him to a babbling, incoherent imbecile. She needed to be checked by any means necessary. So he proceeded to bate, berate, and threaten her. Old school tactics that are usually utilized as a last resort when it comes to sealing the fate of black people who are being unjustifiably harassed were duly implemented. He promised to “Light her up with a Taser” when she maintained her stance of staying in her vehicle. And then the unthinkable happened. He began to pry her door open and when he succeeded he grabbed Sandra Bland out of her own car.
Encina got physical with Bland, which assumingly isn’t a permissible move. But he was obviously agitated and not prepared to deal with a black woman evoking her rights and this inspired his need to silence her by any means necessary. He abandoned his oath, which required him to exhibit a level of professionalism while also adhering to a courteous temperament during routine stops. DPS Director Steve Shaw pointed out that Encina according to the contents of the video, had failed to demonstrate any of those qualities. But most importantly, it was clear that Sandra Bland should never have been arrested.
But of course her story ended tragically because the law has no tolerance for intelligent women of color who are physically and mentally sound. If she had been a Taylor Swift or Kate Upton replica, her story would have been granted a fairy tale ending. Encina would probably have been turned on by the fact that he was being challenged, mainly because as pathetic as he was, he would have misinterpreted a minimal romantic interest. Unfortunately for Bland she was the right gender but the wrong color, and that meant an express ride to the slammer.
She was sent to jail and the circulating mug shot opens up a new can of worms because of the fact that she is conveniently stuffed in an orange jumpsuit. Some are speculating that she was already dead when she posed for her close up. As crazy as that sounds, I’m inclined to believe it even though I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the case. But my resolve to take in an unlikely narrative stems from Bland being presented as an incoherent and unstable woman who was “hooked on weed” and suffered from “severe depression” which led to her occasionally slicing her wrist, according to a recent article by The New York Times.
I call it utter bullshit. If Sandra Bland had issues with depression she was certainly not in the minority. But somehow if a black woman shows any vulnerability it’s a strike against her, as opposed to a white woman who is immediately cuddled and defended. Men of all races seem to recognize that woman deserve to be handled with care but when a black woman who happens to be physically imposing requires the same treatment, it never seems to manifest. And yes, black men are especially guilty of this. I blame you for the way we are portrayed by the media. If black men gave a damn and made it clear that we are valued beyond measure, I truly believe it would help to alleviate the shit that we have to take from White America. But you failed us, and so did America.
America has failed me, and others like me. America failed Sandra Bland and those who love her. This isn’t a black problem; it is America’s problem. My white “friends” on Twitter and Facebook can carry on as if life is indulgently pleasant because they hit the jackpot by being born a different color, but trust me, you will not be able to escape the shit storm that is about to erupt. Twitter is my gauge, and it’s clear that #BlackTwitter is lit and ready to keep that flame burning until we get #JusticeForSandraBland.
I have found a communal space with Black Twitter that keeps me steadfastly immersed in the daily reckonings of Sandra Bland. We aren’t even close to getting our questions answered and we will continue to enable media outlets who dedicate their smarts to sleuthing methods like the Daily Kos. Sadly, some black outlets have resigned to the notion that Sandra Bland’s reported suicide is a factor in her demise, and that is a hard pill to swallow.
Sandra Bland didn’t die because she was mentally ill. She died because she was mentally sound. Trust – if she had been the crazy bitch that we are being convinced she was – she wouldn’t have been taken to jail. She would have been restricted to an asylum. Nah, Sandra Bland was of sound, mind and body, which was her biggest downfall.
The video of Sandra Bland’s encounter vividly captures the Black Experience for a all to see. You can’t deny the fact that people of color are regulated to a very different mandate and Officer Encina was put off guard by the fact that Bland seemed to be lucid and acutely aware of the fact that she was being unreasonable detained
Whether or not she was suicidal at the time she was pulled over isn’t relevant. The point is that she was victimized without cause and if I had been forced into an orange jumpsuit and locked up – based on my erratic disposition, I probably would have considered hanging myself. Who wants to live in a society where your rights are conveniently erased without consequence? I’ve been battling my demons ever since Sandra Bland’s name became my reality and I will not rest until her rap sheet is blank and her instigator is adequately dealt with.
Until then – #IamSandraBland and I am dead.