I truly wish I had known Sandra Bland. I wish I could’ve told her to fly out of Midway to Dallas-Fort Worth. I wish that I could’ve been in the car with her the moment Texas DPS Officer Brian Encinia made her pull over for an illegal lane change, to take the heat for any overt hostility on the officer’s part. I wish that I could’ve acted as a buffer against Encinia’s actions of escalation, to keep Bland from getting her head slammed into the ground. I definitely wish I could’ve been there in Bland’s final hours. To keep her calm, to wipe away her tears, to keep her safe, to give her more ammunition against this sham of justice that has been Texas DPS so far in this case.
But that’s just it. I could also wish I’d been there for Trayvon Martin in February 2012, or Renisha McBride in 2013, or Michael Brown and Tamir Rice in 2014, or seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010. I could wish that I’d known any number of the thousands of Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans wounded, killed or railroaded by police, White supremacists and vigilantes over the years. It won’t change the fact that these Americans are dead, mostly for the heinous crime of existing.
Sandra Bland deserved no more than a traffic ticket with a fine and maybe a mean look from Encinia. Anything that occurred after that is a result of a corrupt system and White fears and aggression. Period.
I don’t want to hear about “a few bad apples,” policing being a “dangerous job” or whether one’s individual “White guilt” is enough. Law enforcement’s system of racial and socioeconomic bias allows for the so-called bad apples, leading to constant abuse of authority. And while policing is a dangerous job, so is working at a chemical plant, a sewage treatment facility, and teaching in any classroom in the US. As for guilt, it translates only into an individual’s obsession with how everything relates to them, or basically a form a narcissism. It means nothing without a corresponding act, to protest, teach, persuade, strike, or otherwise speak out against what one knows is wrong.
I wish I had known Bland because like so many others handled senselessly and (perhaps) killed irresponsibly, she was smart, beautiful, and (as Whites often say about their not-so-perfect kids) had her whole life ahead of her. This injustice, like so many others, cannot stand. Here’s to hoping that Encinia and others responsible will actually face criminal charges and jail time. But really, here’s to hope, for really, without it, there’s no reason to live in a nation like this wickedly unjust one.