Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dedman College Research English Faculty News

English faculty member writes in response to police brutality

Sanderia Smith, Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of English, recently wrote a piece for The New Yorker called Racial Injustice in response to the victims of police brutality across the country.

Sanderia SmithWhat inspired you to write Racial Injustice?

I wrote this piece, Racial Injustice, because there were so many African American men and women being murdered by the police. The one that pained me the most, got me off my sofa to protest, and I ended up writing an op-ed for the New York Times about it, was the murder of Orlando Castillo. I couldn’t let go of the fact that his daughter witnessed it. I knew this one would put an end to the useless murders, but there were more. And then it could have happened to me. As I slept one morning, the Dallas Police threatened to knock down my bedroom door if I didn’t open it immediately. When I opened it, another policeman was crouched in the stairway pointing an assault weapon at my chest. Later, Botham Jean was murdered in his home while eating ice cream. I was unable to write anything about it. My protest is my pen so I decided to write about my incident but nothing. It was not until Breanna Taylor was murdered that I found my voice. I felt as if I was giving her a voice, Castillo’s baby girl, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland, George Floyd, and all of the victims who wasn’t here to tell what happened to them and how they managed afterward. I lived and I live with it every day.

Sanderia is the author of Mourner’s Bench, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for debut fiction, Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit for fiction, and Arkansas Library Association, Arkansiana Award. She is a professional speaker, activist and sommelier, where she pairs wine with books. She is the founder and host of LitNight Reading Series, co-founder of Kimbilio Center for Fiction and co-leader of Pen America/Dallas. Sanderia is also Executive Director of the Dallas Literary Festival, and is at work on her new novel Eleven.

Actress, playwright, Dallas native, and SMU alumni Regina Taylor, read Racial Injustice for Arts & Letters Live at the Dallas Museum of Art, a literary and performing arts series for all ages that features award-winning authors and performers of regional, national, and international acclaim. Read the full article.