In Her Own Words: The Haunting Importance of Sandra Bland's "Sandy Speaks" Videos

by Evan Seymour

Sandra Bland was pulled over by Officer Brian Encinia in Waller County, TX on Friday, July 10th. Her offense? Failing to signal when switching lanes. In video captured by an unidentified bystander, Bland is shown being held down on the ground by two white male police officers.

Eyewitness Malcolm Jackson told a local news station of the roadside incident, “[The police officer] pulled her out of the car forcibly and threw her, tossed her to the ground, knee to the neck, and arrested her.” Not shockingly, this eyewitness account has been all but neglected by the mainstream media coverage of Bland’s arrest and subsequent death.

Bland spent the weekend in Waller County Jail. By Monday morning, she was dead.

On Thursday, July 16th—three days after her death—police claimed the Prairie View A&M graduate had used a trash bag in her cell to hang herself.

The police were quick to point out that Bland posted a video back in March in which she discussed dealing with depression and PTSD. “I am suffering from something that some of you all may be dealing with right now,” Bland said in the video. “It’s a little depression, as well as PTSD. I’ve been real stressed over these last few weeks.”

Those are pretty much Bland’s only words getting any attention in the mainstream media, despite the fact that she posted several videos. The majority of the content in her other posts are about race relations in America.

Sandra was dedicated to discussing the problems of police brutality and racism in this country. Starting in January of this year, Bland began making a series of videos called, "Sandy Speaks." They can be described as a publicly shared video diary. They are not edited. They are not scripted. They are more of a stream of consciousness commentary. They are a call to action to her viewers, whom she referred to as kings and queens. Prior to Sandra Bland’s death, her videos were not widely seen by the public, though they are posted on her Facebook page.

In an effort to keep Sandra voice alive, I have found some of the most powerful quotes from the "Sandy Speaks" series.

Sandra Bland on being Black in America:

“Being a black person in America is very, very hard.”

“We can’t help but get pissed off when we see situations where it’s clear that black life didn’t matter.”

Sandra Bland on the Walter Scott case:

Scott was a black man gunned down on April 4th, shot 8 times in the back by then South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. “For those of you questioning [Walter Scott] running away, well goddamn, because in the news as we’ve seen of late…you can stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.”

Sandra Bland on systemic racism:

“Our legal system and the way our country is run is based upon discrimination.”

Some of her commentary about the #AllLivesMatter social media trend that was created in response to #BlackLivesMatter:

“White people, if all lives mattered, would there need to be a hashtag for black lives mattering? Think about that.”

“Show me in American history where all lives mattered. Show me where there has been liberty and justice for all.”

“White people, yes, black people know all lives matter. But what I need you guys to understand is that being a black person in America is very, very hard.”

“Black lives matter. They really do.”

Her encouragement of non-blacks to join in the protest and be vocal about police violence against black people:

So, for y’all that can sit around and say all lives matter, I want you to go, put it on a poster, and stand out on a corner somewhere. If we can get enough white people to show that all lives matter, maybe they’ll stop killing our black brothers. Cuz obviously, that’s what it’s going to take; for the white people to get up and get tired of black people [alone] saying black lives matter. So if y’all want it to stop, you get out there and do something about it.
Bland said some people accused her of being a racist because of her videos, even going so far as to call her "bitch" and other names. Here are a few of her words in response to being labeled a racist:

"I am not racist. I don’t think all white people are racist."

She also spoke on the power of social media:

“This thing that I’m holding in my hand, this telephone, this camera. It is quite powerful. Social media is powerful. We can do something with this. If we want a change, we can really, truly make it happen.”

Sandra Bland ended most of her videos with words of inspiration. She shared this message in the closing of a video she posted on April 3th, which was Good Friday: “Do what you can to be a positive light in someone’s life. I hope that I’ve done that for you. Know that somebody loves you. Somebody is out there praying for you, and hoping the best for you." She always closed her videos with the same two words: "Sandy speaks.”

Sandy, we will not let your voice be silenced, Queen. We are listening. We will continue to carry the torch and be a collective positive light. #BlackLivesMatter. Your life mattered.

Photo: Facebook

Evan Seymour is a Southern California based freelance journalist whose daytime job is in entertainment news. She is also a professional daydreamer.

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