Who is Sandra Bland? Many of us know her as the young woman who died in a jail cell three days after being arrested in Prairie View, Texas. Her mother said she wanted her daughter to be remembered as an “activist- sassy and smart, and a woman who knew her rights.” Many of us, like myself, look at her and see a reflection of ourselves.

We’ve heard numerous tragic stories this year of black men being taken at the hands of police, but often times the stories of black women have been ignored. This has prompted the development of campaigns such as “Say Her Name” to raise awareness for women who are often marginalized and victimized by law enforcement as their stories go unheard.

So who is Sandy Bland? Some may say that she is a young woman who admitted in March of this year to suffering from depression and PTSD. Addressing that factor in this case as if it has any relevance to this incident is problematic. Yes, Sandra Bland admitted to battling with depression, but from the evidence that has been collected from the jail, there were no indicators that she was suffering from depression during the time of her death. According to their records, she left a voicemail for a friend updating her on her bond and was making arrangements to be bailed out. She also made multiple comments to the officer about how she was planning to take him to court and contest her arrest. These did not come off as comments from a suicidal woman.

Is Sandy Bland a young woman who sealed her fate by being confrontational with a police officer who was attempting to give her a warning? If you believe that, you are as clueless as they come. And as smart as I’d like to think that many of my fellow social media friends and followers are, ignorance has reared its ugly head on my timeline. Some have commented that if Sandra Bland had just followed the officer’s orders and been silent, she’d still be alive.

Sandy Speaks

The idea that had Sandra Bland been silent and adhered to the officer’s request, she’d be alive is a detrimental and flawed perspective. Many are pointing out the racial issues that led to Sandra Bland’s arrest. In my opinion that is not the major factor here. The issue lies in the lack of probable cause for anything that transpired. The traffic stop should not have led to an arrest in the first place. When she was pulled over, and the officer returned to her car to give her the warning, he antagonized her to the point where he was able to force her out of the car and put her in handcuffs. The only action that was needed when he approached her car was handing her the ticket and leaving. Instead he engaged in a back-and-forth with her about her attitude. It was not the officer’s place to police Sandra Bland’s mood, and when he realized that he could not control her attitude, he took his position of authority into his own hands. It is not illegal to disagree with a police officer, nor is it against the law to be annoyed with an officer.

Do I think Sandra Bland’s death is a matter of racism? No, but everytime I read more about her story I’m reminded of my minor encounter with the police. During my freshman year in college, I decided to go shopping in Georgetown with my teammate. As we were leaving Georgetown, we waited at the bus stop to be picked up. Within a matter of minutes, three police cars pulled up and officers got out. After standing a few feet away from my friend and I for some minutes, they returned to their cars and drove away. Shortly after, the bus pulled up and my friend and I got on with a couple of people getting on after us. The bus made it two blocks down the road before multiple police cars surrounded the bus and stopped us. Then with no indication of what was happening, a couple of officers walked onto the bus and told me, my teammate, and another young black girl to get off the bus. Then they made us stand outside of the bus for about 20 minutes. It was a very frustrating and confusing time for me, so we asked the officers why we had been pulled off the bus. We were told that the officers had gotten a call that three black women robbed a store. They saw three black girls at a bus stop, so I guess it just made sense to them that we had to be the targets(did I mention I was 17?). After that 20 minutes passed, the officers let the three of us back on the bus, and we went home.

Everytime I think of this story, while it ended well, I reflect on how horribly wrong that incident could have gone. I don’t just ask who Sandra Bland is because of the cruel injustice that she was subjected to. I pose the question because Sandra Bland represents so many young, black women who aren’t given a voice in society. Sandra Bland represents black women whose stories of abuse, and ultimately death, are not acknowledged. I ask this question because if we’re being honest here, Sandra Bland is you. Sandra Bland is me. And we must not allow our voices to be silenced.

   – Aliyah
What are your thoughts about Sandra Bland’s Death?