They said it was suicide; I say it’s another act of attempted genocide. I don’t have to be a deep thinker or a perceptive person to recognize the slow and steady snuffing out of one people by another set of racist people who hold the power (through government and economy) and maintain their prejudice without fear of consequence.
They say Sandra Bland was argumentative and uncooperative. I say why wouldn’t she be? Why wouldn’t she be afraid, suspicious, and visibly anxious in the presence of the people who consistently execute Black people based on the ignorance of bigotry? And why wouldn’t she expect to be hurt by a system that has historically proven, and continues to demonstrate its lack of regard for Black lives?
Many of us keep looking at racism through a personal lens, thinking that it’s somehow unfair or irrational to say that White America is racist. But the reality is that racism isn’t just an individual experience. Instead it’s a systemic cancer with side effects that show up in ways that affect the lives of all the people, individually AND collectively within the system in various ways. Some lives might experience minor symptoms, and others will die from it. And in this system, the “others” have the same skin and the same traits—brown skin and African traits, to be precise.
Sandra Bland is yet another human light blown out in violent fashion, no doubt because of her skin and her traits. She is yet another human of (obvious) African decent, devalued and disappeared by the ones who decide that we are strange (and mysteriously “suicidal”).
As a person of radical mind in a time when the American news tends to equate radical with terrorist acts, I watch with nausea at my throat and tightness in my fists as Black lives continue to face the worst. Today, as it was yesterday and 100 years ago in America, life itself is seen as a White privilege. And so it does take a radical approach toward living for me to wake up each day determined not just to live, but to thrive.
Sandra Bland is one of many, and as a Black woman raising Black women, I am focused on radical idea of real liberation for my family. As a Black woman in love with and deeply loved by Black men, I have fear and fury in my heart, and readiness in my spirit to rise, to ride, and to do something about how I feel.
I have no solutions to propose to the whole world, but I can and do live with liberation as the design of my day. Perhaps this is a solution for others too, and if it might be, let me share a few of the things I do to prioritize continued liberation. These are some of the things my family and I do to combat these feeling of helplessness, of sometimes deafening anger, and of fucking fury.
We pulled our children from a system that wants to disappear them through false information and systems that place curiosity but no real value on cultures that are not their own.
We work smart, instead of just focusing on working hard. That way we don’t use our lives to build the dreams of people and structures who use the money we help them make to take away the chance for people who look like us to thrive.
We stay in communication with our family members and friends so that we know whether they are safe, and whether they need us in a moment. And we swallow our pride and ask our family and friends for help when we need it, so that we are not left to the wicked tides that have pulled in and wiped out those of us who are not supported by family and friends.
We volunteer our time and our energies to organizations headed by people whose work and efforts are changing the futures of thousands of Black people in positive, life-affirming ways.
And I personally write. I write to share the radical idea of being confident and comfortable in one’s Self. I write to record the sentiment of the time in which I live. I write to contribute counter narratives to the lies that paint people of color, women, immigrants, and outliers as inherently less-than.
What do you do to walk toward liberation today? It’s important that you figure that out, and walk that walk. Because if you are not actively engaged in your own liberation, you are complicit in the oppression and terrorization of your fellow human beings, and that is neither reasonable nor radical.