Sandra Bland #SayHerName
How does a traffic stop turn into an arrest and an arrest turn into a death. Answers we have been seeking since July that are still not answered, but I woke up about a week ago to headlines “Grand jury decides against indictments in Sandra Bland's death”. That was a pill to swallow. To be faced with the realization that a 28 year old black woman, like myself, who went to college and was involved in school organizations, like myself, who volunteered at her church, like myself…can be ordered out of her car, forced to the ground and taken to jail where she will spend her last days on this earth, after simply forgetting to signal….like myself (all the time!) and no one gets indicted.
Unfortunately 2015 was filled with police on black crime, but the Sandra Bland case cut deep into my soul. The conversation Sandra had with that sad excuse for a trooper is an example of the way the world deals with black women. From him saying “you seem irritated” and then when Sandra explains why she is irritated him responding “are you done”…AHHH! I can scream with frustration. I don’t know what it is about black women that people think we are not allowed to be irritated, annoyed, happy, sad or whatever the hell we want to feel. I don’t have to accept a trooper’s ticket with a smile IF I DON’T WANT TO! But instead of giving her the ticket, and accepting the fact that she has the right to be in whatever mood she chooses, and have whatever demeanor she wants, the trooper’s pride was hurt that he wasn’t Sandra’s “Massa” and couldn’t make her say “yes sir” and then he proceeded to violate Sandra and her rights.
That same day I woke up to these headlines, I found an event on Facebook titled “Candlelight Vigil For Sandra Bland” and marked my calendar to attend. Little did I know that before the event on December 30th, there would be another no indictment announcement for Tamir Rice. People of all ages and ethnicities gathered in Union Square Park to remember Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and all victims of injustice and police brutality. The event was organized by a group of students of The New School including Henrietta Audu and Sophie Menan. We lit candles, had a moment of silence, and opened the floor for anyone who wanted to express him or herself. A number of people took this opportunity and moved the crowd with their words, including Constance Malcolm, mother of police brutality victim Ramarley Graham. I composed some of the highlights in a video below, please watch and share. One thing I took away from this vigil is that we must continue to show up, stick together, demand change and say their names.