Dear Sandra Bland,
First of all, I want to tell you that I am proud of your efforts to speak on the topic of race, police brutality and oppression in America. It takes a lot of courage and conviction to speak on a topic that so many in America want to ignore and deny even exists. Racism is a word and an act that you and many other blacks in America are too familiar with and would want to see changed.
Secondly, I want to say “congratulations” on your recent job interviews. I hear you even had two job offers and had just come from an interview when you got pulled over. Wow, you had traveled from Illinoise to find work in Texas! I’m so sorry that your life was cut down just when you were approaching such a great moment of joy. I am so sorry that an untrained, hot headed individual decided to be brutal towards you, rather than treat you as a human being. I wished, that for a second, he would have thought of you or treated you like most police officers treat white women that they pull over. They are often treated, regardless of their disposition, smoking or not, with respect and consideration. You, on the other hand, you were confronted! You were told “I will light you up.” You were taunted and were expected, directed and eventually “commanded” to put out your cigarette. Although I don’t believe in smoking and its effects, everybody knows that for most people, cigarettes have a calming affect. I wished that the officer would have seen you as someone’s sister, daughter, possibly someone’s wife or mom and said to himself, “No, let me let her be and just stick to the matter at hand; the traffic issue.” I am sorry he did not do that. I am sorry that the protection of your life was not at the forefront of his mind. Things would have ended differently if your life mattered to him.
I wished the officer in question would not have demanded that you come out of the car. What was the reason for such a demand or an expectation? Most officers go out of their way to insist that motorists “remain in the car.” They usually get very agitated and nervous when a motorist (black or white) gets out. Yet, in your case, this officer insisted that you come out of yours. I would have asked the same thing, “Why? I’m not under arrest!” I am so sorry that the officer in question, proceeded to further abuse his position of authority and retroactively tell you that you are “under arrest.” No rights were read to you, nothing was formally done. You were treated with such disrespect and callousness, and I feel for you. I feel for your family.
Sandra, I am so sorry that you lost your life. There is a lot of talk about whether you took your life or whether they took it from you – murdered you? There is talk that you said you suffered from depression? Bottom line, your life was stopped short! Your life was taken away from you when you were stopped by that officer. Your life did not belong to you when he treated you like an animal. I understand your disbelief and your anger. A traffic stop does not warrant that type of intensity and rage. Especially from a worker who belongs to a group of workers who often work under the motto, “Protect and Serve.” You were neither protected nor were your interests served. You were treated like a piece of disposable garbage. For that, I am sorry you experienced such treatment in the United States of America, while you were on a journey to responsibly take care of yourself and live out the life that God gave you on this earth.
I am sorry that you went from joy to intense depression. If you suffered depression in the past, then, a greater wrong was done to you. If I were in your position, arrested for a minor traffic offense, spoken to the way the officer spoke to you, then jailed for three (3) days, then I likely would have been experiencing severe depression. Why? Because, now, you will have a police record that you never had. You are now in that monstrous system that so many black Americans have been thrusted in. You were probably thinking, “My job offers, I will not be hired any more. I will now have a record.” In an instant, your life was taken away. Now, you no longer live on this earth. You are one of many stories that we heard and saw this year and past years about black people and the oppression that occurs too often in America.
So far, I have not seen in the news reports what you did for a living. I know you graduated from Prairie View A&M (TexasThe Death of Sandra Bland: What We Know So Far – NBC News). What was your occupation? Now, I hear, you may have smoked marijuana? It looks like there is some movement towards smearing your character. I hope that people don’t look at the silly little things that a lot of regular people engage in, but instead, they look at the tragedy of your life being taken away from you at such a young age. You were only 28 years old. You deserved better. You should have received better.
Finally, I am sorry that America has spent so long denying the serious effects of slavery and racism. So many lives are adversely affected and lost because of the hatred and denial that exists due to the sordid history that was never confronted. Our “Uncle Sam” has to decide to go into therapy with all of his children (black and white) and discuss what went wrong, what is still wrong and what it will take to make the “American Family” a united family.
I am sorry Sandra, that you got caught up in the net of unresolved racial tension, brutal history, and preferential treatment. Once Uncle Sam addresses the negative history and dismantles the oppressive systems and laws, this American Family will be a healthier family. Precious lives like yours will be allowed to thrive and not stomped out of existence just because someone felt like it.