Sandra Bland was pulled over by Ofc. Brian Encina on July 10th, 2015 in Waller County for changing lanes without signaling. On July 13th, Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell. While many speculate the cause of Sandra’s death, whether she really managed to hang herself with a trash bag or foul play was at hand, there’s still much to be discussed before we even make to July 13th.
Replaying the dash cam video, whether the hour long version or the clipped down 7 minutes, I realized the pivotal moment that forever changed the course of Bland’s life and now possibly the course of history. I realized the moment that Sandra made a misstep, that unfortunately cost her life. That most high costing moment that maybe or maybe not could have changed everything.
Sandra Bland made the mistake of thinking she was a human being. Better yet thinking she was a human being in the democratically free land of the United States, which would afford her the most basic constitutional rights that have reigned as supreme law over this country for the past two hundred and twenty six years. It was Sandra’s misfortune that her belief in her humanness, her belief in her basic rights, and her understanding in the Bill of Rights, so attacked the ego of Ofc. Encina that he had to aggressively take her down. Force her into submission to remind Sandra of her role, her place in this life. Crack the iceberg that’s been teetering around Black women, who have been billowing underneath the current, gaining steam in their demands for us to #SayHerName. Crashing down on Black women reminding us just how many don’t consider us humans who have the same basic rights as them.
Instead we need to be super human and a human with no rights at the very same moment. Yes sir, no sir. Void of emotion. Void of rights. Likeable and nice. No respect needed. Fairness is not a thought or a question. Legality is not something we ever question, as we are beneath the right to be protected by the law. The law is only here to shame us, beat us, hold us down and remind us that we were never afforded the luxury of being a respected persons.
What’s so infuriating is to watch the dash cam and hear my voice echo through the window at Ofc. Encina. Sandra Bland’s voice is so many of our owns. We’ve been there, I’ve been there…in moments of frustration holding it all together to when we know we’ve been violated but there’s nothing in that moment that we can do about it. Flexing the tone of our voice to let others know we are aware, but we’ll let you move in ignorance if that’s your ministry for the day. Subtle compared to the screeching white women in Apple stores demanding their needs be met at that exact moment. Loving compared to the white men who walk into movie theaters on killing spree and walk right back out alive. Considerate compared to the white women who resisted arrest after leading police on a drunken high speed chase that ended with her crashing her car…she’s still alive. Angelic compared to the acts of Burger King eating Dylann Roof. And yet we are still mired in a discussion of what Sandra could have done from the same women who share her voice, her tone, her space.
I have no room left to be considerate. No desire to allow anyone to feel comfortable as they repress or ignore Sandra Bland. This is not a discussion where I understand why you think Sandra was wrong. This is hot. Heated. Deeply personal. This is my fight, for my rights and those of my #SmartBrownGirls. And just as my ancestors raised their voices from the heavens while standing in an earthly hell, stood firm not in silence but amplified their cries, unselfishly carrying the community on their backs with the pains of Blackness in a white supremacist society nuzzled in their bosoms; I shall stand tall, never silent, amplifying #SandraBland in the name of my community.