TSLP has officially suspended services for the weekend in recognition of our fallen sisters who have been the victims of police brutality this week.
However, I haven’t slept in days, thinking about those women. Sandra Bland’s death, in particular, has shaken me to my core, and I just can’t stop thinking about her.
I didn’t know her personally, but I feel such a deep and unwavering connection to her that it scares me. Sandra Bland was me. She was my age. She and I had the same education and socio-economic backgrounds. Her activism was ardent and outspoken and exactly the same thing that I seek to do every day.
She had a good life – she was a woman who loved herself and her community fearlessly. She loved hard.
She wasn’t committing a crime. She got pulled over for failing to turn on her blinker…
And now she’s dead.
A Black woman was lynched in Texas this week. A Black woman was lynched in Texas and it is so important that we #sayhername. Black women and girls need to know that our lives matter, too. And those who seek to hurt us need to know that this is not okay.
Sandra’s death has sparked much thoughtful discussion in our social circles about what to do if something like this happens to us. #IfIDieinPoliceCustody is now trending on every social media website as activists issue unofficial advance directives to their families and friends on what they should do, what they should know, if they’re ever killed in the same way as Sandra.
There are a few things I want my family to know, as well… here goes.
1. – #IfIDieinPoliceCustody – know that I did not commit suicide. I did not overdose on some drugs that I don’t take, I did not hang myself, and I most certainly did not “accidentally” shoot myself in the back of a police cruiser. Ask questions – hold them accountable for what they’ve done.
2. – #IfIDieinPoliceCustody – know that I died fighting for something that I believe in. This cause is so important to me that I refuse to stop speaking about it – even though I now know that these are the consequences. Know that my life has meaning and purpose, and so does my death.
3. – #IfIDieinPoliceCustody – don’t let them paint me as “respectable”. Yes, I have advanced education. Yes, I have a good job and I’m comfortably middle class. Yes, I’ve never been in trouble with the police. Yes, I’ve never been a drug addict or other social untouchable. No, none of that makes a damn bit of difference. My life mattered because I’m a human being and that is my basic right as such. My life is/was important, but no more important than any other Person of Color who is murdered by police officers #every21hours in this country.
4. – #IfIDieinPoliceCustody – tell Tansley that I love her. Tell my baby sister that she is the most important person in the world to me, and that everyday when I put on my armor and go out into this fight, that I do it with her in mind.
And finally –
5. – #IfIDieinPoliceCustody – Make. Them. Say. My. Name.
Black women and girls are valuable. We are not disposable, we are not erasable, and we will not be silenced.
I love you.