The Dungeon Shook

Conspiracy theories are so intrinsically mired and ingrained in black culture because, first, America has made us, in toto, paranoid to live in our own black bodies.

Conspiracy theories are so intrinsically mired and ingrained in black culture because, first, America has made us, in toto, paranoid to live in our own black bodies.

For evidence, do a Google search of “black unarmed killed by police” and see what the World Wide Web belches up about our worldwide terror.

Secondly, conspiracy theories — that used to be relegated to the wingnuts of black talk radio and black ghetto stoop dwellers — now abound in broad daylight among us, because conspiracies are an increasingly significant facet of our larger escapist culture, from the manufactured narratives of educated-cum-thug rappers in search of street cred who need to appear “hard” to heads full of blonde, Asian or Brazilian weaves.

All escapism.

Conspiracy theories have taken hold of black Americans for good cause: We have been the bearers of America’s psychic pain for generations.

Imagine yourself trying to thrive in a land where your very body is under constant attack in the media’s portrayal of what it has deemed beautiful and by hyper-militarized police forces woefully under-trained in humane arrest and detention tactics.

Blacks now suffer metaphorically and literally.

Used to be, we could go about our business with scant head banging from cops; now we can get our asses beaten, hauled in or murdered while minding our own business.

I understand, then, the jump to conclusions.

Why should we automatically trust the system that does not trust us in return, if ever?

This miasma is Ground Zero for Sandra Bland’s family — and for us/the U.S. — to try to reconcile Bland’s suicide.

It would be so much easier to swallow had her Texas jailers hanged her.

Bland’s July 10 traffic stop in Waller County, Texas, by Trooper Brian Encinia seemed like yet another paradoxically run-of-the-mill yet over-the-top traffic stop by yet another of America’s overzealous and anxious (white) police officers, until Encinia can be heard off-camera becoming put off, then ultimately enraged by, Bland’s demeanor — namely her refusal to extinguish her cigarette.

Encinia sounds pissed that Bland dared to question his orders.

“Why do I have to put out my cigarette in my own car?” she asks the trooper.

At that point, Encinia had not yet told Bland to step out of her car. He’d already written her a warning for failure to signal a lane change — one she said she’d made to get out of his way.

Here is but a little of what Encinia did incorrectly, according to common sense: If he wanted her out of her car after writing the warning, he should have said that first, then ordered her to put out her cigarette, informing her that it was for her safety and his.

When a cop is alone with a driver on the side of the road, anything can happen and anything can be a weapon used against the officer.

I would have asked her to put it out, too.

When she refused — perhaps because she had already been handed a written warning — she got indignant and cursed Encinia and repeatedly called him a “pussy,” refused several times to get out, to which Encinia responded by pulling his Taser and yelling “I will light you up!”

Now there are two frightened, hair-trigger, skittish and angry people at odds with one another, both with something to prove.

Encinia, that he was some kind of super cop and Texas is his state and Bland was on his road and these are his rules; Bland, that she would keep to her crusade of calling out injustice and racism against blacks, this time using herself as a test case.

Encinia did not protect, serve, keep any peace or, most importantly, behave in accordance with any rules governing traffic-stop procedures or departmental courtesies, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Bland, who was in Texas for a job interview at Prairie View A&M University which she reported to a sister that she got, was manhandled by Encinia, and Bland smartly shouted that Encinia was “about to break my wrists” and that he “slammed my head into the ground.”

There exists in the ether, video soliloquies from Bland to whomever watched them that she was suffering depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

She does not say where either emanates.

They could be from merely being black in America.

Hokey and oversimplified as it sounds, they do exist in us, and this very sentence seems a lame excuse and a flimsy explanation to the uninitiated.

It’s like trying to explain racial discrimination to someone who’s never experienced it.

It’s akin to soul.

You either have it or you do not, and when you have it you will indeed know it.

Bland also self-reported in her intake forms that she’d tried committing suicide in 2014 after she lost a baby.

In her buoyant attempts at a new life South, to a very old yet familiar place, Bland’s skirmish with Encinia and subsequent arrest and jailing must have absolutely deflated and humiliated her.

Maybe it crossed her mind that now, with a record, her new job could be jeopardized, that her middle-class black family would tsk, tsk her and that she had failed herself one final time.

Could jailers have crept into Bland’s cell and hanged her with a plastic bag, then manipulated the hard drive of the cameras recording activity in the corridor outside her cell?

It is possible, but not probable.

And here it is: Suicide, depression, therapy and homosexuality are the last frontiers of unspoken conversations within the Black Family of Man.

This is why we find it impossible to compartmentalize Bland’s seemingly imperceptible emotional abyss she clearly kept from her family and friends, from the fissures of that emotional abyss cracked wide open by Trooper Encinia and his mishandling of Bland’s traffic stop.

Those two things are separate from but directly connected to what I think is Bland’s suicide.

And if blacks allowed ourselves to believe being black in America can depress, confuse and even defeat us, then there’d be more of us in reparative therapy and fewer feeding the conspiracy beast.

However, for some of us to assume and spread the story Bland was hanged by her jailers is an appropriate psychological response to living black in America now.

However, the Bland family could stop this and instead concentrate on Encinia’s firing. There’s clearly so much about this tragic woman they didn’t know or aren’t telling.

And it’s coming out in the worst possible ways — as grist for Bland’s misplaced martyrdom.

And it is wrong.

And we should stop.

And set forth missing and mourning a complicated woman and punishing the man who set the table for her self-destruction.


CONTACT KATHY Y. WILSON: [email protected]


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