Sandra Bland Mug Shot Analysis

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The death of Sandra Bland was an event plagued with obscure explanations and obvious racial profiling. Bland was travelling from her hometown of Chicago to Waller County, Texas, headed for a new job at her Alma mater Texas A&M (Schuppe). She was pulled over by Officer Brian Encinia for not using her signal before changing lanes, and after Encinia asked her to put her cigarette out, she protested, saying it was her car and she shouldn’t have to. Encinia then asked her to step out of the vehicle, and when she refused, he attempted to force her out (without stating that she was under arrest or reading her Miranda rights). He then pulled out his Taser and threatened to “light her up” (Schuppe 1). Another officer arrived on the scene, and Bland…show more content…
In the mug shot, Bland is shown from the shoulders up, dressed in her orange jumpsuit, making it obvious where she is. Bland’s facial expression is the highlight of the image; she looks less than pleased with her current situation: she looks defeated, tired, destroyed. As though she has given up after seeing so many before her end up in the same position, or worse. The image itself doesn’t give much denotative meaning; without knowing the background story of what happened to Bland, as well as the historical significance that goes along with it, the image is simply a mug shot of an African American woman. In theory, mug shots are objective, only meant to provide information and identification. However, the connotative meaning behind this image demands attention and authority. Bland’s photo has become an icon for the fight against police brutality and racial profiling in the black community. The image becomes entirely subjective, not only for those who stand with Bland and see her as a victim of racism and injustice, but also for those who stand against her and see a criminal – someone who deserved their mug

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