Racism in this country is not gone. It has simply transformed.
Most people who paid attention to the news in early July, and who continued to pay attention, know about the death of Sandra Bland. She was pulled over by officers in Texas for arbitrary reasons, taken into custody and later she was found dead in her cell from “self-inflicted asphyxiation,” according to the Waller County Sheriff’s Office. The public—despite her family and friends saying it’s impossible, due to her personality—is supposed to believe that Bland took her own life.
Through all of July and much of August, people everywhere began to talk about the violence that officers had made Bland the victim of and advocated for her. There were cries for more evidence.
But since September is here and we are knocking on the door of October, I haven’t heard much about Bland’s case. There has been talk that the coroner has ruled Bland’s death a homicide, but I have heard nothing about any rulings, any further investigations and I haven’t heard people talking about her. I don’t walk into a Starbucks and see hipsters with horn-rimmed glasses talking about it. I don’t hear about Black Student Unions all over the country demanding answers. What I hear is the silence and watch it become fairy dust, like it never even happened, which says more about us as people than it does about the officers I believe murdered her.
We do not live in a post-racial society like so many people like to think. Our racism has just changed form. Instead of enslaving people and hanging them from trees, people of color are often shoved into economic situations that cause them to never be able to fully participate in the economy and take advantage of the resources that the United States has to offer. They and their children are forced into tiny boxes, with nothing to do but experience racism for generations to come. On top of all of this, we have situations where, when people rise up and lose composure over the death of a woman because of the color of her skin, they are looked upon poorly.
We cannot forget Sandra Bland. We cannot forget that the officers who swore to protect their citizens killed one and lied about it and nothing has happened to them. We cannot forget Sandra Bland because if we forget, we accept the society we live in with its fatal problems and choose to do nothing. Sandra Bland’s murder was a horrible incident. Her family lost a daughter and a sister. But if we as a society accept this racism, we have lost something more valuable—the will to change. We will be hard-pressed to get that back.