Analytical Question
If we stand silently by while others are subject to injustice, are we complicit (guilty)?

Based off of “”The Transformation of Silence into Language” by Audre Lorde.

As a Black Lesbian poet, Lorde has been through many experiences of criticism towards woman of many identities, but she has never spoke out and helped someone because of her silences. SIlences are things we keep to ourselves that will keep us safe, but how will keeping ourselves safe change the fact that there are people suffering and being mocked for their identity. Silences are meant to be spoken out; it’s a judgement for you to stay neutral, or help someone in need. By standing silently while others are subjected to injustice, weare complicit because we are helping the problem by not speaking up for someone. Many people believe that not being involved in the situation and developing silences won’t make the situation worse due to fear of “tyrannies”, but they are promoting the problem with neutral involvement. By speaking up against criticism, “ the concern and caring of all those women gave me strength”. The voice that fights against social injustice can tell you that someone else cares about your own struggles and help you overcome the challenge. By ignoring it, you are leaving someone to fight the injustice themselves, so why not lend a helping hand for support against it? People contain hidden truth’s in these silences. These truths must be spoken out, so your voice can be heard. You are just as guilty as making yourself invisible to keep yourself safe. But “in this way alone we can survive, by taking part in a process of life that is creative and continuing, that is growth.” This shows that by being a part of something that’s continuing to oppress people can lead to self-growth and expression. Silences aren’t held inside you forever; they have a boiling point that gets hotter and hotter, until you release it. By being part of the community and stepping up for social injustice, you are not complicit for helping the enemy criticize your narratives. You are trying to bring change and tell them that they’re wrong. In conclusion, by standing silently while others subject to injustice, we are guilty for not standing up for them. Nothing wrong comes from speaking up for someone, but you should help make a positive change to the problem instead of letting it have the same effect.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Audre Lorde He 3/4 by Calvin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Youth Voices is organized by teachers at local sites of the National Writing Project and in partnership with Educator Innovator.

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