Tag Archives: Police brutality

Black Lives Matter: Reflections on the Death of Sandra Bland

Get ready to get uncomfortable.Sandra Bland Kimberlee Randle King

One of the biggest privileges of having white skin is believing, knowing, that if you call the police they will feel more inclined to “protect and serve” you than not. The same is true of doctors–if the medical industry has a history of lying and using your people as guinea pigs, it would understandably be difficult to trust white coats. Of course media portrayals, general corruption, class, rural vs. urban, previous incarceration history, dis/enfranchisement and gender affect how everyone interacts with the police, but for white people as a whole the police are not a threat. On the contrary even when there is evidence that white people are breaking laws Black people are still the ones treated like suspects. #BlackLivesMatter but think about how many drunk/irate white men brandishing guns have been taken peacefully into police custody, compared to the number of unarmed Black people killed while behaving lawfully.

The Real Race WarThis piece explores how the justice system views Black women, here five Black women share their experiences with the police, read 60 more Black women’s stories here, listen to this spoken word piece about being a Black woman, here you can watch Black women speak out, and this is a good example of Black people’s realities. The disgusting truth of the matter is that any black person in America could have been Sandra Bland, and age, genderdisabilityinnocence or any combination of those don’t change that. The biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout the past year is that Black people rightly fear the police. Would more female police help???

copshooterWhite folks–we NEED to talk about our privilege and how our appropriation of other cultures is not only damaging but violentHere are just a few things you need to know before we move forward so please take a moment. You should also read this, this and this before going any further. Also, here’s what would happen if someone who doesn’t look like me got in a cop’s face, and here’s what kids will be learning about our country’s racist history in school. Speaking of school you should really check out these two truth bombs. And if you’re (somehow) still questioning why anti-racism efforts *must* be integrated into feminism read this. If you need more resources on learning about racism there are more than 30 there. Finally, here is what one woman of color wants white allies to know. What I need from you is to share these truths as far and wide as you can, #SayHerName and the names of all of the people killed by police violence, regardless of color.

Bree Newsome Tweet

On The Burning of Black ChurchesLast month we collectively mourned for the parishioners and families of the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church assassination, but the burnings of Black churches around the nation have been the backdrop against which the taking of Black lives by the police has been set. And while superheroes like Bree Newsome are shining examples of the courage to which we all ought to aspire, the confederate flag still flies regularly in the face of people of color whose existence is challenged everyday merely for the color of their skin. There aren’t enough ways to explain how wrong all of this is. In the safety of my white skin I am shocked and saddened and appalled by my fellow man. Reading about the destruction of Black lives and Black souls all day, everyday is exhausting, but the torment I’m experiencing from bearing witness to these atrocious human rights violations is a sliver, a fraction of what Black people living in fear of being killed by the police or by any of the myriad other racist institutions in our country are forced to deal with throughout their lives. Since it is impossible for me to share the gravity and weight of their reality with them, to take on a just portion of their load, the absolute least I can do is bear witness to these truths, do my part to hold police accountable, and demand change.

Truth Bomb

While so much has been written since Sandra Bland was found dead, details have come forward about the deaths of many others in police custodySarah Lee Circle Bear, Kindra ChapmanRalkina JonesJoyce CurnellRaynetta Turner, Jonathan SandersRexdale Henry, Christina Tahhahwah and Sgt. James Brown to name a few. And while the US has an embarrassing maternal mortality rate pregnant women who are incarcerated face incredible obstacles whether they choose abortion or birth. Where is your outrage? Why aren’t we all taking to the streets everyday to demand a complete and total overhaul of the Injustice System as we know it?  The headline of this story speaks volumes.

“In 2012, the latest year for which federal data is available, 73.2% of inmates who died in jail for any reason had not been convicted of a crime.”

So what do we know about Sandra Bland and her death? She was driving through Texas on her way to a new job at Prairie View A&M when a squad car pulled an abrupt U-turn and sped up behind her. She yielded to the police who then pulled her over for “failure to signal a lane change.” She lawfully refused to put out her cigarette after the officer asked her to. She was ordered to step out of her car, with no reason given. She exerted her rights but Officer Encinia (who was cited last year for “unprofessional conduct”) threatened to forcibly remove her. She said she was going to call her lawyer. Encinia told her he was going to “yank” her out of her car, reached in, and called for backup. Sandra Bland continued to assert her rights and question what reasoning he had for removing her from her car. Then he told her she was under arrest. He called for backup again, yelled at her to get out of the car and opened her door. He said, “I’m going to drag you out of here.”  He then threatened to “light her up” with a taser. She got out of her car. He yelled at her to get off the phone, but she clarified that she was recording the situation, again asserting her rights. She put her phone down and he ordered her to turn around and put her hands behind her back. He said she was under arrest for “failure to obey a lawful order.” She gave him sass he definitely deserved saying, “You know this is straight bullshit.” He tried to justify his actions, “If you would’ve just listened” and handcuffed her. She said, “Oh I can’t wait ’til we go to court. Ooh I can’t wait. I cannot wait ’til we go to court. I can’t wait. Oh I can’t wait!

The doctored dashcam video of her arrest continues for another 37 minutes and includes Bland being brutalized in a number of ways. You can read the transcript from it here. Bottom line: she should not have been arrested. After being taken to (racist) Waller County Jail, and trying to post bail, she was found dead three days later. The official cause of death was suicide, and marijuana was found in her system, but despite her history of depression and PTSD, a lot of things don’t add up. So much so, in fact, that Attorney General Lynch has spoken out and the FBI has joined the investigation. 28-year-old Sandra Bland was laid to rest on Saturday, July 25th, 2015.

Police Custody

So what can you do to combat racial injustice? Educate yourselfSign this petition to stop the prosecution of a Black woman trying to get a job so she can feed her children. Speak out against the mistreatment of trans* folks, especially in police and immigration custody. Support your local Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Justice efforts in your community. Remember the history of race and slavery in our country. Take all seven steps Black Girl Dangerous spells out for you. Show Up for Racial Justice. Follow conversations on racism on social media with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter #SayHerName #SandySpeaks #WhatHappenedToSandraBland and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. Be an ally to trans* folks. Support just struggles everywhere. Donate to the Sandra Bland Legal Fund. Whether Sandra Bland did commit suicide or was killed at the hands of someone else while in police custody is basically irrelevant at this point. She is dead and the entire criminal “justice” system is guilty. Rest In Power Sandy.

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I Believe! #WWC

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The victims of the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

There’s so much I could write about right now I had a really hard time choosing this month’s topic! From LGBTQAI+ Pride to #BlackLivesMatter to reproductive (in)justice and everything in between, there’s a lot going on in the United States that deserves our attention. Recent police violence against black girls and the massacre of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church parishioners pictured above Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Clementa Pickney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor, and Myra Thompson shows that racism in the US is still deadly. Domestic violence is ever-present. Biphobia and bi-invisibility are still rife, even during Pride Month, and trans immigrants are still dying to become Americans. One thing that doesn’t deserve our attention is white privilege that ran rampant in blackface for years.

Attack_of_the_14_year_old_girl_WebDespite the often deadly climate in the US for trans women of color the documentary Out in the Night sounds like an incredible exploration of the intersection of race, gender expression, sexual orientation and class as it plays out in the “justice system” from street harassment to prison. Other snippets of positivity have popped up recently too including simple ways to combat racial bias and use white privilege for good, major retailers discontinuing sales of Confederate flag merchandise, the presence of a woman on American money in the near future, the continued presence of Obamacare and free birth control in our healthcare system, Lorretta Lynch was sworn in as Attorney General by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, California passed a bill banning crisis pregnancy centers from lying to patients, New York law now requires sexual assault charges to appear on college transcripts, Google’s new policy to exclude revenge porn search results, a 16-year-old French girl registering on Major League Baseball‘s international list, GO! Magazine’s 100 Women We Love, a Kickstarter for a documentary on black women in tech was wildly successful, these six awesome international developments for women’s human rights and today’s ruling by the US Supreme Court that MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS THE LAW IN THE UNITED STATES!!! “We’ve made our union a little more perfect.”- President Obama #LoveIsLove

Bad RefsSince I couldn’t choose between all the good and the bad things going on I landed on the ugly. Not really, but there definitely is some ugly truth coming up with the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. I’ll admit I am no expert on sports–in fact I don’t even really care about sports. While I grew up with football, baseball, hockey and tennis on TV occasionally and was basically required by the size of my elementary school to play basketball, kickball, flag football and softball and participate in all kinds of track events, I am no athlete. My partner however is all athlete–grew up playing futbol and basketball and avidly watches men’s and women’s futbol, basketball and tennis, and American football to this day. His love for sports is contagious and after learning so much from him about the benefits of team sports, especially for kids, I’ve somewhat come around. I still can’t tell a pick ‘n’ roll from a set screen but I watched most of this year’s NBA finals and thanks to Title IX some of the Women’s College World Series and have been engrossed by the Women’s World Cup.

OTTAWA, ON - JUNE 17:  Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon of Korea after scoring her teams first goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 Group E match between Korea Republic and Spain at Lansdowne Stadium on June 17, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sohyun Cho of Korea celebrates with Hahnul Kwon after scoring. June 17, 2015- Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Lars Baron – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Women’s sports get less media coverage now than they did in 1989, but if you have the right channels, or go to the right sports bar, you too can watch women from around the world play the Beautiful Game in all its glory. Superstar ballers like Brazil’s Marta, South Korea’s Cho So-hyun, and the US’s Alex Morgan are showing the world that women have just as much passion, talent and heart as men, but like everything with FIFA this World Cup isn’t without controversy. For those of you not familiar with the Evil Overlords of Soccer FIFA has recently been embroiled in a corruption scandal and former President of FIFA Sepp Blatter (the genius who proposed increasing interest in women’s soccer by making players wear “tighter shorts”) stepped down amid complaints of obvious human rights abuses by upcoming Men’s World Cup host countries Russia and Qatar.

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Twelve international women’s teams are set to appear for the first time in the next iteration monstrously successful video game franchise FIFA 16 but even that feat has been overshadowed. The biggest issue players and fans alike have with the 2015 Women’s World Cup is the playing surface. Men have never been made to play on artificial astroturf and even though Canada had offers to install grass for free FIFA maintained that separate but equal was possible. Despite balmy temperatures all over Canada in the 70s-80s during game time temperatures on the field ranged upwards of 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit even though temperatures over 122 degrees are considered “unsafe for sustained use by trained athletes.” Issues surrounding pay equality for women athletes have also come up numerous times.

“This is why soccer should be played on grass!” -US Striker Sydney Leroux

If you need a primer on how elimination works in these tournaments this page is an easy read and this page has a quick 20 facts to get you caught up on WWC action through its history. In the down time between games various sports channels have been re-showing Nine for IX, which originally aired in 2013, and has one episode focusing on “The ’99ers,” the only US Women’s Soccer Team to win a World Cup. For an interesting history of the iconic photo of Brandi Chastain check out this piece, but save it for after you’ve seen The ’99ers. Also airing recently was Heroes: The Story of the FIFA Women’s World Cup which I’m sure is also available online. The United States plays China tonight in a knockout quarterfinal game but make sure you catch up on this fantastic re-cap of the game that got us out of group stages.

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The quality of play has not been an issue so far–the women’s teams are making the same mistakes the men’s teams do, but one of the most glaring issues has been the inexperienced referees. I think most fans can appreciate that FIFA and/or Canada wanted to have all female refs for the Women’s World Cup, but since only 10% of referees globally are women their experience level cannot be equal. To follow the action on social media check out @FIFAWWC #WWC #worldcup #USA #LiveYourGoals and #SheBelieves. In the face of rookie refs, turf burns and no real professional league development the United States Women’s Soccer Team’s future could look pretty bleak, but with so much love from fans and talent from our superstars, like Mia Hamm, I believe!


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