Two days ago, Roxanne Gay published an op-ed piece in the NY times about the vulnerability of Black bodies– male and female. She started the article, with words friends and I have used when discussing the racial situation in the U.S, “I’m tired.” Thanks to cellphones, we’re seeing just how often Black children (who somehow appear to be adults), men and women are being brutalized, violated, and/or killed. As difficult as it is to look at the situation, we can’t look away and we can’t be silent. As one activist cried, “There’s a war on Black bodies.” How can this be denied with the videos and the statistics? One person killed based on their race, as I’ve said on this blog before, is one too many.
What I really don’t understand are a few of the comments attached to the article. A few people expressed, and thankfully very few, that Sandra Bland, the focus of the article, was responsible for her ill-treatment by the officer because she was “disrespectful.” If I’m understanding those commenters, they’re saying that being rude to a public official, and possibly deservedly so in this case, should somehow lead to death. I’m not going to debate if Sandra handled being pulled over badly, she died as a result of it. Whether she committed suicide in the jail cell, after being locked up for three days for a reason that still hasn’t been revealed or was murdered by the police, only one thing is sure, the whole situation was overblown, unnecessary, unacceptable and heartbreaking.
A 28-year old woman lost her life, because of an alleged traffic infraction. What do we then teach Black children in the States– even if you’re right, hold your head down; don’t speak back; be polite; make yourself small; appear as unthreatening as possible? If you read this story and somehow felt that Sandra was at fault for her death, or somehow feel that she’s in any way to blame, then please take a long look at yourself and the justice system.
Let’s continue to speak for those who were silenced much too early– Amadou, Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Walter, Sandra…and sadly, it goes on. (What an awful roll call.)
p.s a) If you look at this and say, “All lives matter,” (and yes they do, and that’s irrefutable), but if that’s what you say, then you’re not getting it. b) If you say, “Black people kill each other every day,” and think that’s an excuse for why it’s alright that a law enforcement official does it, you’re still not getting it.