Letters To My Sisters: Rest In Peace, Sandra Bland

Dear Sandra,

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Queen, I apologize. You, in all of your glory were victimized by the system you knew “too much” about. Your thirst for life, your prosperous endeavors and happiness will never be forgotten by those close you. In life, you lived each day to the fullest. In death, you are yet another name that is spreading the fire of a social revolution. You represent so many black women who are living their lives without knowing what may happen within the next five minutes. You represent the young entrepreneur with the passion for success. You’re the young person road-tripping during the middle of a blazing summer. You are our sister. You are us. I guarantee that your death will not be in vain. Thank you for your awareness and your courage to speak out on issues that have/are taking place within the black community. I will fight for you. I will speak on this. You will NOT just be another hashtag or face on a t-shirt. You lived your life through happiness and willpower and I promise to make sure you receive justice. Sandy, I am in tears. I see so much of myself in you. Please rest and let your fellow queens & kings work and reform on your behalf. You are loved.

Love Always,

Your sis, Mo

“Sandra Bland decided to commit suicide over a parking ticket.” That’s coming from the same people who brought you “Freddie Gray severed his own spine just to mess with the cops” and “Mike Brown was the Incredible Hulk and could run through bullets.” Steven King couldn’t even write fantasy, romance, sci-fi that well.

28 year old Sandra Bland was pulled over on Friday for a traffic stop and at that same time, she was arrested for “assaulting a police officer”. On Monday she was found in her cell not breathing from what appeared to be self-inflicted asphyxiation (suffocating). Police say they tried CPR but it failed to work. Her family says she had just gotten a new job and had no reason to kill herself, Sandra didn’t even believe in suicide. There is currently an “investigation” going on. The police didn’t want to release her name but her family did in hopes of raising awareness for this case. Sandra Bland didn’t signal a lane change, and apparently that’s enough to kill a black person in this country. A traffic violation. Black lives aren’t worth a damn thing in the eyes of law enforcement. The violation meant more to the cop than her life did. His quotas are more valuable than a black human life. In a video of her arrest, while being forcibly held face down, Ms. Bland can clearly be heard saying to the officer, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that?” As she’s being picked up off the ground and placed into the police vehicle, Ms. Bland can be heard again, this time thanking the person recording the video, saying, “Thank you for recording.” Bland was arrested and booked on “assault of a public servant” charges. A police statement says that the following Monday morning Ms. Bland was released on a $5,000 bond, and was subsequently “found dead” by a female jailer who was “worried” about her recreation time. An autopsy performed Tuesday showed Bland’s death “has been classified as a suicide, with the cause of death listed as hanging” (according to Tricia Bentley, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences in Houston). Hanged. Suicide. A young 28 year old woman who was moving to Texas to begin working her dream job suddenly decided to commit suicide, supposedly because of a minor traffic infraction. This don’t even sound right. We need answers.

Here is a Facebook post by her close friend, Michael West:

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“While we can’t rule out the possibility that Bland actually did commit suicide, those close to her have stated that there was no indication that she was feeling anything but good at this point in her life. Mental illness and depression are complicated beasts, but so is the American system of policing. When it comes to the death of a Black person in police custody or during an encounter with officers, what reason do we have to believe ‘official’ accounts of what happened, when videos and witnesses have made liars of officers over, and over, and over again? When people of other races are routinely stopped, questioned, arrested (or NOT stopped, NOT questioned, NOT arrested) and somehow manage to live to see another day?

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We need to know what happened to Sandra Bland but tell me, what clarity can we expect to get from the same people who arrested and jailed her? Police departments investigate themselves and return to us with an emphatic response of “nothing to see here, folks, the system is working!” Sandra Bland deserves the outcry that is typically reserved for Black men who die in police custody, and the media attention that is given to white female counterparts.Say her name! (Take notice of how media outlets report on this tragedy (if they do) Sandra was a proud graduate of Prairie View A&M Univerisity in Prairie View, Texas. Media outlets are simply referring to her as a “high school graduate”. If they can’t criminalize her with images, they will undermine her accomplishments and intelligence.) I’ve been sitting here, in tears, thinking about the state murder of fellow queen, Sandra Bland- situating the mostly shredded but still deeply internalized respectability politics from my black upbringing with the everyday paranoia of black womanhood, i.e. visibility and susceptibility to racialized violence and harassment and misogynoir.I am thinking about my taught belief in police fairness, that you need only worry about them if you’ve done something wrong. I am remembering being taught that blackness was inherently deviant and “wrong.” I am remembering the role of the police within a carceral state built on the subordination of blackness. I am reconciling intellectual and emotional understandings of state violence with the hope to which i’m clinging, that no violence like this (or of any kind) would ever ever befall me. I am remembering this is a product of internalized respectability, my “exceptionalism.” I am continuing to hold my breath and panic internally and swallow my fury + disdain and maintain my composure whenever a police officer walks or drives past me. I am honestly so saddened and angry at the death of Sandra Bland. This could’ve been my mom, my aunt and my cousins… this could’ve been me. If you needed a reminder that black women are also a target in America, this is it. Please don’t let this die out. Please don’t forget her name. Please Black Men, be as vocal and loud as possible just as we are for you. Please. Please. Please. I’m actually saying this with tears in my eyes. I can’t. I despise this country. America: where Dylann Roof can massacre 9 unarmed black people in a church, be aprehended alive and uninjured without any shots being fired, gets a bullet proof vest for his protection, gets taken to a Burger King on his way to jail because he’s hungry, and weeks later he is still alive, safe and sound in prison awaiting trial America: where Sandra Bland and Walter Scott can’t even survive encounters with the law over minor traffic infractions without being murdered by the police America: where you’re safer with the police if you’re an armed white mass murderer than if you’re an unarmed black motorist stopped for a small traffic violation

They don’t give a damn…
They shot Tamir Rice…a child. They killed Mike Brown a teenager. They let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk free. They killed Freddie Gray. The sad part is there are too many names to list. So many more people….now Sandra Bland. A white dude walks in and kills 8 people. He wasn’t dragged through the media. Another white dude walks into an elementary school, they didn’t drag him. Then, ANOTHER white dude walks into a movie theatre. They didn’t drag him. It’s easy to point out the violence in cities like Chicago, Detroit, and the east coast but also point out the almost 50 years of conditioning that allowed it to happen. Let’s be real, no one commits suicide over a parking ticket and a short stay in jail. Judging by the video of her arrest, I’m guessing Sandra Bland made it clear she was intending to sue over police brutality, a cop lost their temper…and things pretty much spiraled out of control from there.I would say almost for sure she made it clear she was suing over her head getting slammed on the pavement and they got pissed at her. No hints whatsoever of depression/mental illness but she is VERY aware of police brutality.

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#JusticeForSandy

Oh! What a shame it is that blacks have to say this

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But it’s the truth. Please remember this.

“It means the moment you keep it real They gon’ take yo ass up off the scene.” – K’la

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