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.
This piece was originally published on darlenekriesel.com.