I am not Sandra Bland. My death won't go down in history books as mysterious, I won't be spoken about for years to come, and my situation won't be contemplated and researched by theorists and scientists as an anomaly. But, neither will hers.
Her tombstone won't be flagged recognized and visited by the masses. She won't be spoken about tomorrow like your favorite rapper will. Memes on rapper duels will be more on mouths than her own mothers words: "She would not murder herself," and yet; we don't listen. We won't speak about a mugshot that may have taken place post-murder. We won't talk about a black woman's rights behind the wheel and the animosity of white men against black women exhibiting free will. The animosity of all men against black men. We won't talk about Sandra Bland. She will not be a household name. Because there are many of us who are not Sandra Bland.
I am not Sandra Bland. I have never been pulled over while driving, and if I was, I don't think I'd be asked to leave my car. I have never feared for the death of my own children before their conception. I am a woman, but I am not Sandra Bland. I will not pretend non-black women of color like me deal with a life as strenuous straining and dangerous as black women in America. I am an activist like Sandra Bland. I am outspoken like Sandra Bland. I support Black Lives Matter like Sandra Bland.
But I am not Sandra Bland. I most likely won't be murdered for the causes I champion. Although we women are always in danger, traffic stops, policemen, and smoking in public do not cause me fear. "In the news that we've seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed." Those were Sandra Bland's own words. I don't think by speaking out, I speak my death into reality like Sandra Bland.
Black women are more likely to be raped than white women, but black women are less likely to report being raped than white women. Black women experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than white women, but black women are less likely to use domestic violence shelters and social services than white women. We are not here for black women. We have not proven ourselves to be here for black women. Fear of police causes black women to not seek law enforcement with regards to abusive relationships. Fear of racial betrayal causes black women to not seek law enforcement with regards to abuse. And what we should really ask ourselves is that if a black woman with no suicidal history killed herself after only three days in prison, what happened to her in prison? What happened in that prison?
What is the problem with our mistreatment of women? What is the problem with our mistreatment of black women?
For every black woman who reports her rape, fifteen go unspoken. The number one killer of black women ages 15 to 34 is murder at the hands of an intimate partner. What I'm saying is, Brian Encinia had hand in Bland's murder, but her murder was taught to him by a teacher whose salary we are paying. By a system that we finance. A system that hands out power with no checks as easily as it hands out guns with no background checks.
What I am saying is, I will never be Sandra Bland, and I will never give birth to Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner was not my father. Michael Brown wasn't my nephew. What I am saying is, those of us who never were Sandra Bland, care too much that we were not Sandra Bland. We have put distance between ourselves and the outcome. Black lives don't matter to you if you have never shown interest in being an ally. Black lives don't matter to you if you see these incidents as individual. We could have done more to protect Sandra Bland, support Sandra Bland, and promote Sandra Bland. No black woman should have to die to get a Wikipedia page written about her. Should have to pay dues for attempting to own as small of a space as a driver's seat.
It is not black people's responsibility to try and go out of their way to educate the rest of us of their everyday reality- it is not black people's responsibility to "prove to us" their worth. To prove why they shouldn't be violated, murdered, and forgotten. It is not their job to convince us they're worth more than slaughter on streets and photographs of their bodies post-mortem sensationalized and spread for us to observe open-mouthed over dinner for a day, and then forgotten.
I may never be a victim of pointed racial violence like Sandra Bland, but if we as a country had risen to the occasion and recognized when other black women, men, and children were being murdered, perhaps she wouldn't have been either.
I am speaking out to every non-black individual:
If you haven't made the genocide of black lives your problem, if you aren't speaking out against blatant systemic racism, if you haven't educated your own children, coworkers, friends and family on the consistent oppression, control and abuse of black bodies in America from the moment they arrived on this soil until now; if you haven't at the very least acknowledged there is a pattern, your fingerprints may as well be on the necks of the victims our country keeps claiming it protects and serves.
I am not Sandra Bland. But I don't need to be, to be devastated, disgusted, and furious. And what's more, you don't need to be Sandra Bland, to feel that her blood does lay, in part, on your hands.