Often in our world, people are ridiculed for their identity. Some of us don’t experience this attack, but we all witness it. We are given a choice; we can remain silent and forever let regret consume us, or speak out against injustice. Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Transformation of Silence into Language,” argues that if we stand silently while others experience injustice, we are complicit. She points out that silence is caused by fear, but we must face this by speaking out because, “your silence will not protect you…we can sit in our corners mute forever while our sisters and ourselves are wasted…and we will still be no less afraid.” Our beliefs and principles make us who we are and we must speak out and support them. If we remain silent, we are not following what we believe in, hence, we are not ourselves. Audre Lorde writes, “You’re never really a whole person if you remain silent.” If we betray our own identity, we must be guilty for what event uncovered this change. She says that, “we cannot hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us.” She believes that we can’t segregate ourselves and hide because we are too afraid to speak even though, “the machine will try to grind you into dust anyway.” We cannot pretend that the people who are being called out and mocked do not exist. We must intervene and speak or else we are guilty. Speaking out is not necessarily being discussed in this essay literally. It means to be ourselves and reveal our true identities. People are often taunted by others for speaking out and truly expressing themselves. In this country, oppression is inevitable because, “racial difference creates a constant.” However, we can do our best to stop it and allow diverse identities. If we just watch this happen, we are guilty, because we are not respecting people’s true selves.


CC BY-SA 4.0 Audre Lorde Osborn 3 by Ava is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Paul 2 years ago

    Thats deep!!!

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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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