We’re coming upon the 2-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Annette Bland.

Bland was an African American woman who traveled to Hempstead, Texas to start a job at her alma mater Prairie View A & M University. Bland was arrested by a state trooper for failing to use her signals to change lanes. Three days after her arrest, she was found hanging in her jail cell.

Since that time, millions of people have used the name Sandra Bland to spotlight the police brutality of Black Women. One of the most important voices of the #SayHerName Movement is Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal.

Reed-Veal has continued to speak out to preserve Sandra’s legacy and memory. In August of 2016, she commemorated the name Sandra Bland in a soul-stirring speech at the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.

And just this past week, she was in Austin, Texas to testify in support of the recently drafted Sandra Bland Act. The legislation pushes for law enforcement reform measures such as mental health awareness, racial profiling prevention, and de-escalation training for police officers.

Also considered in the bill is the requirement of magistrates to be quickly notified by county sheriff offices of possible mental illnesses of inmates.

During her testimony, Read Veal, the last of 35 testifiers on the bill, said, “I don’t hate police. I hate the fact that we do not understand that this is going on too long by those who have been charged to serve and protect us.”

It is so important for Sandra Bland’s mother to say her daughter’s name.

It is equally important for the Texas legislature to say Sandra Bland’s name into legislation.

This law would symbolize an official act of reformation of the ways in which black bodies are handled by law enforcement.

It would also show that “Liberty and Justice for All” is still a concept designed to protect all people.

So  in God’s name I pray that the name Sandra Bland becomes the name of a bill of equity, justice, and peace.

Pepsi: The Voice of A Confused Generation

Back in my day, Pepsi was a hell of a soda. So much so that the soft drink was deemed “The Choice of A New Generation.”

Nowadays, there’s a new generation of folk who prefer Pepsi, too. But this generation seems to be confused about the traditional purpose of this soda.

If not, then why else would Pepsi create “Jump In”, a two-and-a-half-minute online depiction of this:

As either a roast or toast to Black Lives Matter (you decide), a group of extremely good looking millennials take to the streets in protest. The protestors laugh and smile as they walk down the street with signs such as “Peace” and “Join The Conversation” Then an extremely good looking White woman abandons her photo shoot to walk with the protestors. The protest turns into delirium when the woman gives a can of Pepsi to an extremely handsome (ok, good-looking) cop, who has formed a cordon with other policemen.  And in one fell swoop, Pepsi softens tensions between the protestors and the police.

Upon its release, the ad was immediately met with backlash from users of social media. Some viewed the ad as falsely using White lives as a stand in for Black pain and suffering. Others highlighted the ad’s tone deaf conflation of critiquing police brutality and racism with drinking through social issues.

In other words, this was not a good look for Pepsi.

After looking at the ad, I concluded that Pepsi was marketed as a quencher of the thirst for justice that drives social movements. Or shall say I say “just add liquid and chill.”

Either way, the soft drink company quickly pulled the ad, stating, “Pepsi was trying to project a global a message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”

Getting on the mark requires a meeting of the voices that approved of this confusing generation of media for public consumption.

Having already pulled the ad, Pepsi should now focus on pulling off the following feats:

  •  Pulling the plug on political correctness that whitewashes the racialized aspects of political events or movements
  • Pulling out all of the stops to demonstrate a sustained commitment to social justice
  • Pulling the trigger on ideas that promote diversity as the authentic inclusion of minoritized groups

I know that this sounds like a lot to pull.

But this blog is a simple suggestion for pushing a soft drink in ways that sizzle with cultural awareness and cultural sensitivity.

And there’s no reason for this idea to not become a choice that new generations of Pepsi lovers can toast to in the future.

Does it Matter If It’s Black or White?

The late great Michael Jackson once asked if it mattered if we are Black or White? On a record-No. Off the record-Yes! Hell yes, race matters! Race matters now more than ever in every place and every way.

This is even true when it comes to baby dolls.

You see the internet is currently ablaze with a sensational story about a White mother, her daughter, and race. The 2-year old daughter chose a Black doctor baby doll as a reward for her success in potty training.

When the mother approached the cash register, the elderly White cashier peppered the girl with questions about the doll selection.

The main question was, “Are you sure this is the doll you want, honey?”

After the girl replied in the affirmative, the casher said, ‘But she doesn’t look like you. We have lots of other dolls that look more like you.’”

The girl slayed the cashier with the following response:

“Yes, she does. She’s a doctor like I’m a doctor. And I’m a pretty girl and she’s a pretty girl. See her pretty hair? And see her stethoscope?’”

In her viral Facebook her post about the experience, the mother confirmed her happiness about her daughter’s display of colorblindness. She wrote, “This experience just confirmed my belief that we aren’t born with the idea that color matters.”

The mother attributed the cashier’s behavior to age, ignorance, and white privilege.

But truth be told, the mother’s views are also a byproduct of-wait for it-White privilege.

What I’m saying is this: Would this White mother minimize race if there historically were not an abundant supply of White dolls in America?

This is a question that is apparently important to Black mothers. So much so that the ABC sitcom “Blackish” dedicated a whole episode to race representation.

Diane receives a white doll from a neighbor. Rainbow’s response-exchanging the white doll for a black doll, preferably a doctor. But Rainbow becomes very upset when she and Diane find that the only available black dolls are an escaped slave and a Civil Rights protestor.

The moral of this story is this-There is not a huge supply for the Black demand for positive Black images in media and merchandise. So it very much matters to Black people that they are positively represented across the diverse spectrums of society.

This is also a matter of acknowledging that race and culture must play a conscious role in the lives of White people.

This will lead to between race ad within race representation that fosters racialized understanding and inclusion.

And we shouldn’t have to doll ourselves up to see this!