"[T]here is an entire system of injustice whose fingerprints left bruises on her throat."
I've been following the story about Sandra Bland's death in police custody and I have to say I find it terrifying on so many levels. There is the sadness that this poor woman should not have been arrested in the first place (just see the video/audio of her arrest), that she spent three days in jail because of a $5,000 bond that resulted from her illegal arrest, that she was either killed or resorted to suicide and died in police custody. Then there is the sadness that this is not a unique story. There is the sadness that so many well-intentioned white people feel more threatened by the idea that they are racist than by the fact that this type of situation happens every day to the people of color who surround them.
How could a routine traffic stop for failing to signal a turn become this tragedy? Would that same police office have treated a white woman the same way for the same type of "sass" that Sandra gave him? Would he have arrested a white man?
The only commentary I really have to offer is just that this is sad. It is sad for Sandra and her family. It is sad for all the many people who have died in similar situations, and for those that have survived them. It is sad for the people who, like myself, enjoy the privilege of having light skin and not having to deal with these dangers to our persons by the police, but who recognize that there is injustice happening. It is sad for the other light-skinned people who refuse to realize that this is a big deal, or who are completely oblivious because it never touches their immediate lives.
I think that Roxane Gay's Op-Ed in the New York Times, "On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies," speaks volumes. I'll close with a quote from her:
"Because Sandra Bland was driving while black, because she was not subservient in the manner this trooper preferred, a routine traffic stop became a death sentence. Even if Ms. Bland did commit suicide, there is an entire system of injustice whose fingerprints left bruises on her throat."