Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland. Your name is now a part of a hashtag. Because of you, #IfIDieInPoliceCustody has taken over Twitter. Your name is now listed alongside Eric Garner’s, Michael Brown’s, and Tamir Rice’s, as well as Yvette Smith’s, Shereese Francis’, and Rekia Boyd’s. We all know there are many, MANY more. You spoke for the Black community, but your voice was silenced. No, let’s just tell it like it is: your voice was eliminated. The damage to your body did not come at the hands of the medical examiner’s scalpel. It wasn’t the just y-incision that scarred your body. The fatal harm came inside a detainment facility with gray floors. We know that not because we’ve visited that place, but because that was the backdrop of your mugshot.
We know that you were stopped for failure to signal a lane change. We know that things began to escalate after you were told to put out your cigarette and refused. My sister, we heard your screams, we heard you telling him that he was hurting your wrist. We heard the other officer say that she had seen everything, but how can that be? We’ve heard the last voicemail you left for your best friend. We’ve seen that mugshot. My God, we’ve all seen that mugshot. It kept me up last night, Sandra. Every time I drifted off to sleep, that mugshot woke me up. I posted on Facebook earlier today that in that thing, either you were already gone or that your light was snuffed out very shortly after it was taken. The darkness that’s shown on your face in that mugshot is death. It’s unmistakeable, but we’re to believe that what we see in that mugshot is you, alive and breathing. Okay.
Girl, you know there are some folks out there saying you should have just shut up. We’ve been told that you had marijuana in your system. Okay. Cool. I guess in someone’s mind those are justifications, but we’re not falling for the okey doke. Nah, we’re going to stand on the fact that you were killed. They’d like for us to believe you committed suicide. No, you didn’t. NO, YOU DIDN’T! See, we know that you were headed in for a new job at Prairie View that you were really excited about. We know that your fight for the Black community was your passion. You didn’t leave this life of your own will. You didn’t leave here because you were troubled. We’re not stupid. We know that you knew your rights. While we don’t know the exact manner of death, we know the where it occurred. You know we’re not going to stop until we find out just how you were taken away.
You were an active participant in the movement to make certain that everyone knows that #BlackLivesMatter. Your life mattered. What happened to you is the very reason we have to keep that movement, our mission going. You did not die in vain, my sister. I didn’t know you personally, but I know what you stood for. You were the dreaded sister who had no problem letting the world know that the lives of the people in your community matter, and when I say you were dreaded, I’m not just referring to your hair. Your outspokenness and your willingness to stand up for the equality of Black people were and always will be DREADED!
You’re sleeping now. Sleep on, my sister. We won’t forget you and we won’t let the world forget you. Know that your plight, your mission, and your name will be on our lips forever. Sleep on.