Questions and mystery surround the death of activist Sandra Bland, who died earlier this week in a Texas jail. Waller County police have claimed Bland committed suicide by hanging, but friends and family of Bland don't believe this account and are calling for further attention and investigation into her death. The news of Bland's questionable death has spread like wildfire, and multiple trending hashtags have been created to spread awareness, as well as draw attention to causes Bland supported.
Last Friday, Bland, 28, was pulled over for failing to signal before changing lanes. According to Waller County police, she became combative and was arrested for assaulting a police officer. Three days later she was found dead in her cell. Her death came days before she was due to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University, her alma mater. Bland was vocal in person and social media about her activism, and often posted videos on her Facebook talking about important issues, along with her daily life.
The online activism following her death has been explosive. A petition is circulating to have the Justice department investigate Bland's cause of death, and the hashtags #SandraBland, #JusticeForSandy, and #WhatHappenedToSandraBland have been trending on Facebook and Twitter.
It's clear from her #SandySpeaks videos that Bland was an extremely passionate, dedicated woman who was invested in furthering her causes and trying to make the world a better place. In addition to supporting transparency in the investigation surrounding her death, here a few of Bland's causes that absolutely deserve more attention.
The Power Of Social Media
As we've seen repeatedly this year, social media is a powerful tool in creating and driving movements. In one of her regular #SandySpeaks videos, Bland says, "It's time... social media is quite powerful. If we want a chance, we can make it happen. Stop waiting around for the next thing. Start in your own home, start with you." Bland's death is just the latest example of how social media can shine attention on previously unknown issues and bring together supporters from all around the country.
Maintaining A Positive Outlook
Bland was the exact opposite of the stereotypical "angry activist." Loved ones describe her as happy, uplifting, and dedicated to her faith. Each of her videos begins with "hello my beautiful kings and queens," and goes on to encourage her friends to be "up and productive and doing something to improve your queen and kingdoms." She gently talks about social issues with intelligence and patience, and it's clear that her positivity is an inspiration to us all.
Bland was unafraid to talk about civil rights and was dedicated to her effort to continue the dialogue and enact change. Bland spoke openly about the difficulties black Americans face on a daily basis. In one Facebook video, Bland said "being a black person in America is very, very hard." Her most recent Facebook picture, posted after the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, says, "Now legalize being Black in America."
Ending Police Brutality
As an outspoken critic of police brutality, Bland's death looks even more suspicious. She was an active member of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and many of the images on her social media accounts deal with the issue of policy brutality, and especially the discrepancy between the way whites and African-Americans are treated by police.
Image: Getty Images (1)