Listen to Sandra Bland's message, because she's voicing a message that is obviously not sinking into our social fabric. I'm still not over Trayvon Martin's death, because all of the evidence surrounding Trayvon's death, to me, seemed painfully obvious that Trayvon did nothing to instigate any sort of attack, let alone his own death. We forget these deaths as a society so easily. What ever happened to Kendrick Johnson, for example, the young teen found dead in a rolled up gym mat under suspicious circumstances? I see an underlying theme to these cases, and I think a good number of people really misunderstand what some of the primary issues are. Of course, social advocates such as Sandra Bland do an excellent job at attempting to clarify them, people become uncomfortable, defensive, and fidgety with a subject we all need to address with completely open minds.
This Isn't Just About White People Hurting Black People
One of the common sentiments I see people bleating redundantly in response to these pleas for justice is, "Well, more white people, statistically are victims of crime by black people than the reverse," or, I hear people bleating, "What about XYZ case where a black man shot and killed a white man. How come that wasn't in the news?" Okay, so firstly, making a competition about which group of people is more dangerous is, well, dangerous to society, but these arguments are missing the point. In every case someone attempted to refute the #blacklivesmatter movement by posting about a black person killing a white person, I've found that the perpetrator was swiftly incarcerated and the victim was swiftly vindicated. I keep thinking about Trayvon Martin because this was a young man who walked nearly a mile to the store and ended up dead, with no weapons on him, within 50 feet of his apartment. The police tested him, the victim, for drugs, and soon afterward, his every deed as a teen was unearthed as to criminalize him. The majority of the public defaulted to automatically criminalizing Trayvon. Many people didn't even scratch their heads even once at the possibility that Trayvon wasn't a hardened criminal. So we come to a weird catch-22 about the justice for black victims:
Statistics about Black Crime Perpetuate Unreasonable and Societally Dangerous Stereotypes
Take Sandra Bland, for example. I get that Sandra Bland was irritated and that the best advice for people stopped by officers is to comply and be as respectful as possible, but I'm sure you can converse with a lot of decent police officers who can attest to the vast array of annoyed individuals who attempt to argue their way out of traffic tickets, who sometimes use profanity, or who sometimes throw mini temper-tantrums at the idea of a ticket. Police generally don't force them out of the car on that reason alone (unless they are confrontational to the point that seems unsafe). In fact, Sandra Bland didn't even use profanity when the officer asked her, "What's wrong." She was brutally honest, and clearly irritated. Her situation was clearly escalated by the police officer who arrested her, but she was in a jail cell alone for a traffic violation. This woman was being charged with an assault on a public officer: a felony. A felony takes a person's right to vote from them. A felony makes it difficult for a person to get, keep, and maintain adequate employment. A felony is a major festering wound on a person's record. This officer attempted to royally interfere with Sandra's ability to be successful in life with this charge, and remember, she was supposedly not under arrest until he was already apprehending her, which is certainly a confusing catch-22 in our justice system, isn't it?
So, Sandra Bland would be (and is) another blip in the crime statistics vault on the dangerous crimes of black people. The most profound thought nugget coming from this is that when someone posts one of those statistical info graphics about how criminal black folks are, consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, a good number of them are being provoked and charged with crimes which are incredibly unreasonable, and so, that only adds to the invisible racist undertone of people's minds. Truly, a considerable number of black people being accused of crimes are actually the victims themselves. Judges see assertive black women as rebels and criminals and young black men as thugs or gang members without really considering the human context of the individual. Obviously the public is quick to criminalize black victims, as we see in the Trayvon Martin Case.
There is something to these movements and demonstrations. We can't continue minimizing these acts and cries for societal change. We have to acknowledge these issues and admit it: something is seriously wrong.