Today, Sandra Bland would have turned 30 years old.
When I turned 30, I was home with a 3 day old baby. Maybe Sandra would be home doing the same thing today. Or maybe prepping for a trip to LA or Vegas to meet up with her girls, of whom she hadn’t seen together since she set off to Prairie View for her new job.
Maybe she would have fallen in love and her significant other would have been planning a romantic dinner for her. Maybe she’d have the flu. Maybe she’d be visiting her family back home in Illinois. We will never know.
What I do know is that something broke in me when I heard that she was killed. Before then, I thought law enforcement was just out against Black men and boys. I was wrong… The fact that Black women are labeled sassy, argumentative, or defiant is apparently reason enough for us to be hurt and killed. There is a chance that I knew this all along and was afraid to realize that my own life is perpetually in danger. Asserting myself and my beliefs might not only make people at work uncomfortable, but might also cost me my life.
Something filled the gaps of those broken pieces, though. In its place, I feel strength, pride and solidarity with Black women who are also called too much. I wrote the poem below on July 24, 2015, two weeks after Sandra was killed.
I see the smile you wore.
Big, warm, inviting.
Laugh that makes others laugh.
Larger than life.
Hush yo mouth when Sandy starts telling a story.
Warm caramel beauty.
Your mother’s maiden name is Reed, too?
Something about those Reed girls.
You get popped in the lips as a kid?
Mama give you the look
She smacks you
And you still mumble your truth.
Did you plan the social media firestorm as you sat?
In your car.
In your cell.
Swearing these motherfuckers are going to pay.
Calling their mamas names.
Livid at the injustice.
Hoping for justice.
Show their asses.
This is all so petty and ridiculous.
You never saw your mama.
Your first day at Prairie.
Your business card.
A fresh cigarette.
Anyone looking to ease your pain
ease your fears
Give you peace of mind.
I know you were afraid.
I know you fought
With your last breath
With your last bit of energy
I know you thought of your mother
I know you thought of the people who told you to not speak so loudly
To not live so proudly
To not be Sandy.
I know you took your last breath as Sandy.
Larger than life.
You got a social media firestorm.
You will have justice.
Shit. Will. Burn.
Rest, Miss Bland. Rest.
We got you.
Happy birthday, Sandy. ❤ We still got you.