Audre Lorde’s essay “The Transformation of Silence into Language” conveys the idea that silence hurts more than speaking aloud because it shuts you in. She states that it is everybody’s duty to educate by “living and speaking those truths which we believe and know beyond understanding.” While attempting to speak up for yourself can be difficult and dangerous, there should be nothing stopping you from stepping in when others are victims of injustice.

You feel trapped and isolated when you experience hatred aimed towards your identity because being attacked can distort your visions on who’s with or against you. Just like you, others feel that too. But to have someone stand up for them and support them, breaks the silence, and makes that person feel safer and more comfortable to express themselves freely. Audre Lorde writes in her essay, “And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must…recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.”

While some people’s voices are suppressed, Lorde emphasizes the need for us to realize that and to encourage them to use words that are meaningful to them and us also. Leaving the silence in our people will only come back and harm every one of us because we aren’t using the power we have in our hands to help our world progress further. Being silent and allowing others to be silent are “ways in which we rob ourselves of ourselves and each other” according to Lorde.

If we just stand by and watch, what good are we doing by being witnesses? We should be doing much more than providing proof of injustice, rather we should take action and bring shame to it. Staying quiet on issues like these only strengthen the line that divides everyone’s identities and connections to each other. In order to diminish the force holding all of us back from unity, we need to focus on giving our own voice to injustice and help others find their voices too for it is detrimental to ignore the silence.

CC BY-SA 4.0 If we stand silently by while others are subject to injustice, are we complicit (guilty)? by Kathy 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.

CC BY-SA 4.0All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
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