“They thought it was cool to burn crosses on your front lawn as they hung you from trees in your backyard
They thought it was cool to leave you thirsty and stranded, Katrina
He thought it was cool to carry a gun in his classroom and open fire, Virginia Tech, Columbine, stop the violence
They thought it was cool to tear down the projects and put up million dollar condos, gentrification
They think it’s cool to stand on the block hiding product in their socks to make quick dime bag dollars
They think it’s cool to ride down on you in blue and white unmarked cars busting you upside your head.” These are the words of Ayesha Jaco from Lupe Fiasco’s ‘The Cool.’ I found myself playing this song on repeat throughout today.
One year ago today, Sandra Bland was unjustly killed. She was pulled over for failure to use her turn signal. A video below shows former police officer Brian Encinia applying unnecessary force to Bland, who challenged Encinia for his unjustly actions. It was shortly after this moment that everything would become a blur. The Texas state police department would attempt to argue that Bland would commit suicide while in jail, a story that none of us bought. “Good morning my beautiful Kings & Queens.” This is how Sandra Bland would start numerous Facebook posts in which she would enlighten her followers about Black History. Like many of us, Bland realized she served a larger purpose. A member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc, Bland was known for being very vocal about race. She was pulled over in the midst of traveling through Texas, excited to start her dream job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. A 2009 alumnus of Praire View, Bland graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture. This occurrence happened just weeks before she was scheduled to begin working at Prairie View as a summer programming associate in the school’s Cooperative Extension Program.
For centuries, Black women have been at the forefront of the movement fighting for equality, justice and peace for ALL Black people. Sandra Bland was no different. There is irony in the fact that Bland, a member of a historically Black sorority, a graduate of a HBCU, and a very proactive member in our community when it came to inequalities. Irony in the sense of ignorant rhetoric towards our community, yet she was slain while in the midst of doing just that, taking care of her own. But isn’t that what privilege looks like? Denying one’s access while demanding their own. Her spirits moved many, including myself. It was this moment that I opened my eyes to the importance of realizing that #AllBlackLivesMatter. In the midst of everything going on, Bland was already doing the one most important thing we all can do, supporting the Black community in both her words and her actions. Today, like many days were tough for me. Scrolling past videos of police brutality, racist comments made by ignorant citizens hiding behind fake profiles and somehow finding a balance of my mental health. But it was remembering her purpose and her legacy that helped push me through.
Sandra Bland never deserved to die. Although one year later, it’s now even more important that we remember to #SayHerName and the countless others in our community that are consistently unjustly killed in the fire of police brutality. If you’re reading this, you must know that we need you. Now is the time to no longer second guess your calling, your passion or your purpose. And when you come to realization of this, never forget the importance of weaving in your strengths, talents and goals to advance the African American community. Where were you on July 13, 2015 when news first broke?