If we stand silently by while others are subject to injustice, are we complicit? I think that yes, people who stand by as others are wronged are guilty as well as the wrongdoer. It’s the same as just watching someone beat up someone else. We live in a “silence is golden” society where speaking out is something only crazed lunatics do. People would rather just tip the brims of their hats over their brow, tighten their grip on the suitcase that contains their stable life and ignore their own people being oppressedpeople whose suitcase they thought would never be taken from them, is being stolenrather than stand out. But as Audre Lorde points out, “Your silence will not protect you,” and it’s true. Speech is a powerful weapon, capable of completely changing entire nations, and stopping wars and eliminating unrighteous ways of thinking. But how are you to defend yourself against those unrighteous ways of thinking, the riptide of dominant narratives that are ready to suck you away into the stereotype sea where you may never return if you stay speechless? And if you stay silent whilst others are being exposed to injustice, who will help you when you are being exposed to the same thing? But if you rage against the silence, others will join you in your plight. As Audre Lorde states, “It was the concern and caring of all those who gave me the strength and enabled me to scrutinized the essentials of my living,” If you stand together and speak out against the riptide, it shall calm, and allow you to pass through it peacefully. But if you try to pass through that riptide without calming it, it will tear you away from your life, and who can pull you back, if you did not stand up for them? So speak out, and destroy the guilty silence.

Photo by Lorie Shaull

CC BY-SA 4.0 Is silence golden? by Neo 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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