Audre Lorde was an African-American woman who was heavily seen doing activism for female and racial rights. In her essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language,” she talks a lot about how silence affected her and how it affects everyone else in the world, saying that it doesn’t protect anything and how you need to speak out in order to change the world. If you simply stand by and watch while someone is oppressed or hurt without trying to help them, you are as guilty as the people who are the oppressors.

Audre talks about this silence quite heavily and how it can become an issue even if we see it as otherwise. She says that “Your silences will not protect you,” which she also mentions didn’t protect her. Silence might be seen as a mask that protects you for the dangers of the world, that you will be safe if you don’t speak up. Yet, if you don’t speak up, more problems are created then fixed. The oppressors will just continue on with what they are doing until they are done with who they are hurting, before setting their eyes on you, and then you can’t do anything to stop it yourself. You help perpetuate this problem of oppression until it’s too late for you and those around you, unless you start to not only stand up for yourself, but also for those around you. If you speak up and out at those who would cause you or others pain before it reaches a point of no return, you can help stop the issues out there in the world, even for just a little while.

And why do people stay silent, besides thinking that it will keep them safe? Audre believed that “In the cause of silence, each of us draws the face of her own fear,” which is a strong, but powerful, statement. Each person who is still concealed in this mask of silence starts to create ideas in their head of why they are afraid to speak, why they must not speak or they will be hurt in the process. If people didn’t think that way, they would start to stand up for people more, and in the process, help the world get better. However, many are still fearful and don’t speak up. In the process, they let the oppressors get away with what they want, and so the bystanders become as guilty as those that hurt.


CC BY-SA 4.0 “If we Stand Silently by While Others are Subject to Injustice, are we Complicit?” by Joshua is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Tiffany 2 years ago

    I agree with this. Everybody should start speaking up but yet again it’s not that easy for everybody, including myself. I don’t like to make big scenes in public but yet, my dad always does. Sometimes a person is too shy to speak up against what is wrong. People who isn’t shy should speak up and the people who are shy should work up to that. I really like this piece and changed my views about activism.

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