Sandra Bland is Dead

In Blog by darlene5 Comments

Sandra Bland, a young, black woman on her way from Chicago to a new job in Prairie View Texas is dead by hanging, and we believe it was murder. If not murder in her jail cell, a murder that began at the site of her questionable arrest by a cop who pulled her over on a long stretch of Texas highway.

Sandra Bland is dead, yet again, I see the mantra “All Lives Matter” as a retort to the new civil rights’ movement hashtag, “Black Lives Matter.” It is a mantra of those who Ta-Nehisi Coates dubs in his book Between the World and Me, the “dreamers.” These dreamers hold fast to the false perception in America that all people are viewed and treated with the same humanity. It’s the mantra of those who sit comfortably with dreamy notions that the state and its watchmen, because they are hired to protect, do so fairly and with the utmost integrity. It is to believe in a God that only demands acquiescence to His authority, and by extension, the authority of the state, despite reading in the holy text that we are all created in his image, an image that through both his word and his wrath creates and destroys. It is a mantra used by the missionary who loves to give charity abroad to the poor brown and black natives, victims of their own states’ abuses, while she simultaneously condemns her own black and brown countrymen and women.  She blames Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Megan Hockaday and Eric Garner for their own deaths. In her imagination, Blacks are the scourge of America.

Those who say “All Lives Matter” say that police officers put their lives on the line everyday, and are heroes. They fail to acknowledge that bad policing, excessive force, police brutality, the planting of evidence, is not mutually exclusive to their point. In protecting their dream, they permit the continued persecution of black lives.

“All Lives Matter” is the mantra used by those who say Sandra Bland should have kept her mouth shut, like her words were a gun against the officer’s head, ignoring it was the officer who held the lethal triggers. They say she should have done as she was told by the police, as if her body belonged to him, relieving him from any responsibility to treat her with human dignity – a privilege the police bestowed upon three white men in Abilene Texas, who protested for the right to open and carry and demanded, screamed at the police to “stand down” while the men were strapped with machine guns.

Sandra Bland is dead and it is time to erase the “All Lives Matter” mantra. Sandra Bland is dead, and Black lives matter must not be imagined as a toddler’s cry of a victim obsessed minority, but a protest of a movement that says Black lives, both men and women, are full citizens, full human beings in America, who deserve equal treatment under the laws of this country, and need to stop being killed by the police state, leaving families and our communities to mourn, while too many perpetrators walk away with impunity.

Sandra Bland is dead, and it is time for all of us to become more alive than we ever have in standing up for justice for Black women’s lives.

Sandra Bland is dead, and it’s time for black men, who love black women, but somehow feel like “we got this,” “we are strong,” to recognize we are also their sisters and wives and daughters who need their strength – it’s time they stand up with us and raise their voices and their pens and say Enough!  Say Sandra Bland’s name with us. Say her name.

Sandra Bland is dead, and I mourn for her life, and fear for my own. I, too, have asked questions when pulled over. No smile or plea has ever stopped an officer from ticketing me. My daughter asked questions when she was pulled over by a cop late at night over mistaken probable cause. Today, I am glad she is alive, but I am afraid because I know I cannot save her. We are all Sandra Bland.

#BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName


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  1. John Rice

    I read your piece in Salon. I read Salon every day. To say All Lives Matter (and by implication) White Lives Matter is to say nothing new. White lives have always mattered. That’s the problem: Not that they matter but that they only matter. Old white guys (like me) should feel guilt about that. Privilege is toxic. White privilege, male privilege, financial privilege are all a cancer that goes unrecognized in ourselves for too long.
    When a black Sandra Bland took her car with (presumably) Illinois plates to Texas for a job I wondered “What was she thinking”. I am an old white guy and I wouldn’t go there. The traffic stop was trumped up. The cop was harassing Yankees and a black one? So much the better.
    Sorry if I rambled. Keep writing.
    John Rice

  2. IceTrey

    Cops kill three times as many whites every year as blacks. It does look like Bland killed herself. The real question is why she couldn’t find someone to pay a bondsman $50 to bail her out.

  3. Lisa Dawley

    Darlene, I enjoyed reading your piece, and it helped me to keep reflecting on the profound feelings I have related to Sandra Bland’s death.I cried as I learned about her life, her promising future, and her subsequent death. I later signed a petition at for the attorney general to take over investigation.

    My 15 year old nephew, who is white and lives in Florida, also suffered a similar police brutality incident, and was “fortunate” that he only ended up in the hospital with a major concusion, brusing and swelling, and with PTSD. His charges of aggression toward a policy officer (skinny white kid…and the video was modified to show only the last few seconds after he had been handcuffed) were eventually dropped in court, but I believe it left some kind of record.

    I hadn’t really considered the hash tagging surrounding the incident. When i saw #alllivesmatter, I thought about my nephew and the repeated instances of policy brutality I’ve seen across our country.I assumed it was a public outcry against such repeated cases that we continually see in the media. I hadn’t considered that some people viewed it as a reaction to #blacklivesmatter, and your post has helped me see another important perspective. We are all fighting for social justice on so many levels. Keep up the good work. Thank you.

  4. Author

    Lisa, I am devastated after reading about your nephew. I hate that police brutality is so prevalent. I hope your nephew is able to function and grow into a healthy young man. I will keep writing, because I know the emergency we are currently in. I thank you for opening your heart to relate to the purpose of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. There is turmoil now, but I am convinced that change is imminent. It has to be. Thank you for sharing that very personal story.

  5. Author

    John, you have not rambled, and I get your message completely. Thank you for being an ally.

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