In July of 2015, a young Black woman named Sandra Bland was driving through Prairie View, Texas when she was pulled over for a minor offense by a police officer named Brian Encinia. After a tense exchange, Encinia took Bland into custody. Three days later, she was dead, having committed suicide in her jail cell. Sandra Bland’s death received national attention, in part because it was another in a series of high-profile fatal encounters between Black Americans and police, and in part because it raised issues that can be encapsulated by a single, vexing question: how could a routine traffic stop go so catastrophically wrong?
In his recent book Talking to Strangers, the author and cultural critic Malcolm Gladwell examines the events that surrounded Sandra Bland’s death, revealing the elements that shaped the encounter between Bland and Encinia and considering how it could have unfolded differently. In the process, Gladwell explores why human beings so often struggle to understand those who are different from them.
As part of our efforts to understand race, racism, and racial reconciliation, David Romanik will lead a study of the book Talking to Strangers. We will meet on Thursday evenings at 6:30 beginning September 24. Our first meeting will take place via Zoom. Please contact David Romanik (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to participate, or wish to order a book.