She's not the first black woman or man to be killed in police custody for doing nothing in particular wrong in the first place. She joins a long line of what are by this point martyrs. The list is too long and varied at this point not to acknowledge it, stretching back centuries and renewing itself unwillingly on a daily basis. We deny it at our peril, all of us -- and by us, I mean the people who don't live this reality daily and thus don't have to recognize it. It's our "privilege," by which I mean our fault.
An African-American friend of mine, someone I admire, tweeted about how he was really nervous about driving his family cross country to visit his mother; he had to think about recording devices and bail money and medical records. I listened to his worries and nodded, because there was no comfort I could offer him. I couldn't tell him he was wrong. I wanted to, oh how I wanted to, but I couldn't. There's not even an area of the country to tell him to avoid, because it's everywhere. Racist actions and police brutality are everywhere, particularly for our black neighbors, and the very fact that there are those among us who don't have to think about it is damning, because it proves that it is not just a problem with authority; it is a black problem, which means in all reality, it's a white problem. We are the culture and the ones at fault, whether we directly participate or not, because we refuse to see the problem when it's not directly in front of us, and we fail to stop it or call for sanctions and change when we are forced to see it.
I didn't know Sandra, but I wish I had. She seems pretty darn awesome, from what people have gleaned of her life. I want her death to mean something, both to myself and to others, and that's why I posted this; I know my reach is small, but she deserves every voice to speak, no matter how quiet. We all deserve that, and until we acknowledge this problem and lobby for change, we in the white community will continue to live in shame, as our neighbors live in fear. I am ashamed, but I won't let that silence me. I'm sorry, Sandra. You deserved so much more than this.