Sandra ☆ Bland
February 7, 1987 ☆ July 13, 2015

Sandra Bland ∙ Original photograph ©Sandra Bland ∙ Illustration ©Petra Maricela Thompson Violetarojo

Sandy Speaks
"I Will Not Apologize"

Sandra Bland was not just what happened to her, she was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a beautiful woman following her dreams. Once she discovered the power of video blogging using technical devices combined with social media Sandra was off and running on a course to advocate for equality, Black Lives Matter, goodness, light and humanity. In the months prior to being robbed of her destiny she shared her insight and wisdom with those who ventured intentionally or not to her cyber window. A woman filled with strength and hope she was eager to reach people, God called on Sandra and she answered,

“Laugh all you want, say what you want, but I’m here to change history, I am ready to do what I need to do for this next generation, it’s time for me to do Gods work.”

I'm aware that at some point Sandra had a very difficult experience with personal loss and it took her to a dark place that loomed over her for some time. She lay down wounded but when she stood, she stood up a warrior with no apology or fear and set out once again on her intended path. Like many of us, she learned the ‘how to’ of it all in her youth so she was well prepared as she mapped out her new future. No matter how much effort she put into being well equipped nothing short of Gods hand could have made her ready for what was coming. One image of her that I love that stands out for me among many is in one of her videos. She’s wearing a t-shirt and she has big curlers in her hair, “Take it or leave it” attitude that shimmers like the rain cascading against a coat of wet paint covering a graffiti wall at night. Sandra talked about everything you could imagine, racial issues, current events, God, people who are offended by the mere mention of God, the good stuff the bad stuff, white people, all lives matter, injustice, Black Lives Matter there was no limit. At times she spoke about herself regarding depression. To this day though not once did I ever hear her make reference to attempting to commit suicide in any of her videos or posts. Sandra didn’t have a script, no makeup artist, director yelling action or cut, no professional backdrops, sets or lighting, editing or golden statues to come. It was just Sandy Speaks, her convictions and all their vulnerabilities, her heart on her sleeve and her big beautiful voice, eyes and smile greeting the world. She was and always will be more than what happened that day in Texas, she will always be, Sandy Speaks.

I’m sure that like all of us, Sandra made some bad choices along the way but she was obviously able to transcend and transition from there to where she needed to be to be able to make use of her ability to reach people in a positive and enlightening way through video blogging. She put on the armor of God and wrapped a righteous thread of connection to a fight for equality that soon wove itself into a tapestry of words filled with support for Black Lives Matter. It didn’t take long for people to be offended by her good fight because of course people want to need to believe that if you’re pro black your anti white. Sandra didn’t relent instead she gripped the earth beneath her feet a little tighter, strengthened her stance and foundation and firmly continued to water the gardens of change. Her moons and stars engaged her faith and she talked about doing God’s work and a dream for a better future for America and the next generation. At first Sandra’s voice was more like a whisper that was heard by those closest to her but soon enough where there was only one turned into a few and suddenly there were hundreds and then thousands.

Sadly I was not one in that number, I only learned of Sandra Bland and Sandy Speaks after Sandra’s death from a post on Facebook about what had happened to her in Texas. The initial pedestrian video of her being accosted by the police and violently thrown to the ground and abused was very difficult and painful to watch. I was moved by Sandra’s courage and tenacity in the face of evil as she responded to the police throughout the video. She reminded me a little of myself as I watched and listened to her. I have had to deal with police harassing me throughout my life no matter where I have lived; I know what that’s like. As I watched on all I could think about was her mom, her family and her friends and what they all must have been going through. I am deeply affected by these horrors of injustice against people of color and I cry and I pray and then I cry some more and then just keep praying. I know because Sandra is dead and the state of the world being what it is you might read this and want to use it to confirm what you think about God and prayer. Step back and think, if we that do believe and pray weren’t doing so what life would be like, so bad that the very thought of it would scorch your mind. Sandra didn’t die because God forsake her; she died because her killer, killers gave themselves over to their sin nature and took her life in hopes of extinguishing her light. But even when man contends to do evil God uses it, the world didn’t stop fighting the good fight because Sandra Bland was killed if anything tens of thousands joined in the march to eradicate this evil and darkness. From the first time that I watched that video and then all that followed a day does not pass me by when I don’t think about Sandra and her family, especially her mom. My heart breaks for Sandra’s mom she doesn’t really get to mourn her daughter as she should be able to. Not just because she was murdered but because the person, persons who murdered her daughter are claiming that Sandra committed suicide and that must be crushing to her. It’s evident from the video that Sandra was the target of blinding racial hate. The worse thing she did was be there not even the lane change without signaling merited being pulled over for a traffic violation. Sandra was singled out, harassed and abused both verbally and physically because she was black. It’s also very clear that the officer was not expecting Sandra, a strong, articulate poised black woman who knew her civil rights in the situation and who would not be compelled by a badge, a taser, or a gun to surrender to being trespassed by a corrupt police officer. A civil servant with a history of infractions who totes the same agenda as hundreds of other police officers in America, an agenda to first do harm and when at all possible to murder blacks and persons of color. It’s a different kind of singular roundup so it isn’t as apparent as what happened in Nazi Germany but the outcome is the same and therefore proves the intent of the act.

I knew from the onset that Sandra was murdered and that she did not take her own life. I’m often asked how I can be so sure and all I can say is this, God put the truth on my heart and with all of my faith I trust God that the truth will be revealed and that Sandra and her loved ones will have justice. God be with you Sandra and with all your loved ones and friends but especially your mom. Bless you Geneva Reed Veal for the incredible mother that you must be, tears streaming down Americas face for your loss and all that you have been forced to endure. God be with you and fill your heart with an overabundance of warmth, strength and peace for the fight that’s ahead of you, you’re not alone. You were right Sandra about changing history and doing God’s work. We all wish that it would not have happened like this not to you or to anyone else. I pray that God carried you home and that you did not suffer at the hands of your abductor(s) and killer(s). You are always in our hearts, our thoughts, our words, and we will say your name and tell your story, and you will not ever be forgotten, Rest in Peace precious one. -Petra Maricela Thompson Violetarojo

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