Last week I watched the police dash-cam footage of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop. As I watched the horrific interaction unfold, a slow numbness took over my body, followed by fear and panic. I felt like a toddler who lost their parents in a department store. I was scared and confused. Why was she stopped in the first place? Why was she asked to get out of her car? And why was Sandra arrested?
Trying to tweet the hurt away, I took to twitter to vent out my frustrations, but that did not help. My tweets were met with Internet trolls. While I responded and scrolled through the #SandraBland hashtag I saw words like combative, attitude, belligerent and insubordinate to justify her arrest and consequently her death.
I sat up in bed overwhelmed with emotion. Sandra was a brave and bold woman. She was a black, educated, millennial, young professional who moved to a new city to mobilize her career and pursue her passion. The more I thought about Sandra, the more I saw myself. I looked up at the ceiling and felt this feeling I can’t explain with words.
I usually pray at night before bed and that night was no different. But when I knelt down to pray, the words didn’t come out. I was at a complete loss of words. As warm tears rolled down my face, I knew a piece of me died with Sandra Bland. My friends would describe me as articulate. My parents would describe me as outspoken. My supervisor would describe me as stern and just. But if I were found dead in a jail cell, what would my media narrative be? How would my personality translate in a police report? I wept. My shirt was drenched in tears and the words still didn’t come. I simply didn’t know what to say. I wept some more.
Then I said the names of my friends one at a time. Then my sisters. My cousins. My mentors. My neighbors. My classmates. My aunts. I wept harder. I was completely distraught at the thought of such amazing women; such amazing people; being one self-advocacy moment away from a justice hashtag. Any of them could’ve been Sandra Bland. I wiped my face with my shirt and sat at the edge of my bed. A part of me died with Sandra Bland. I pray I get it back.