Day by day, rivers of blood snake through the soil of a “post-racial” United States. Scraps of paper, upon which the words “formal equality” are written, are plastered over the wounds, but the gushing continues unimpeded.
While each victim has their own story, many boast a terrifying commonality: they belong to the Black nation, and have endured the brutality of systematic state repression.
Behind the mirage of a “colorblind” society lies a prison house of national subjugation.
Sandra Bland knew this reality quite well. As a Black woman, and as an activist in Chicago, she had frequent contact with racist injustice, and had gained recognition as an outspoken member of the Black Lives Matter movement. “In the news that we’ve seen as of late,” she once said, “you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.”
These words would prove tragically prophetic.
On July 10, Sandra drove through Waller County, Texas, a hotbed for police cruelty and the KKK. At one point, an officer pulled her over for allegedly failing to signal.
Through a series of events obscured by suspicious “glitches” on the dash cam and security videos, Sandra wound up in a jail cell, and died several days later. Police claim it was suicide.
According to police, Sandra assaulted the officer in question, although an eyewitness states the exact opposite. Despite the obvious edits in the dashcam video, the video shows the officer out of control, threatening to “light you up” with his taser and causing her to scream in pain.
Because of these irregularities, the FBI has launched an investigation into the circumstances of her arrest and death, and the county DA plans to pursue the case as well.
Clearly this case requires further investigation. However one shouldn’t thank the criminal justice system for making this happen. The most likely catalyst is the success of the movement against racism and police brutality, which have made the status quo difficult to maintain. Without this mass struggle, Sandra’s death could have very easily been glossed over.
Further, justice for Sandra Bland won’t come through the indictment of a single officer. She dedicated her life to fighting a system, and only the full-scale dismantling of these oppressive structures will suffice. So long as Black people face targeted assault from law enforcement, the war for liberation will rage on.
“It’s time to start doing something,” she once said. “I need you. I need y’all’s help. I can’t do this by myself.” Every progressive person should listen to these words, and stand in solidarity with her legacy.
Rest in power, Sandra Bland.