The violence of white silence
Those words haunt me almost as much as the images and videos of innocent people being shot, beaten, arrested, and stripped of all humanity.
It haunts me because it makes me uncomfortable.
And it should.
Because my inherited skin color has allowed me to remain comfortable for 30 years. The box I check under the question of race has afforded me the privilege to keep scrolling right through my day. It’s granted me the ignorance of remaining deaf and mute, while simultaneously diagnosing me with short-term memory loss.
Just keep scrolling. Just keep scrolling.
Medication for that memory? None necessary. Those symptoms I was born with – they just confirm I’m alright.
I mean, after all, I’m white.
Not by choice mind you. I came into this world not of my own volition. I was somehow fearlessly and wonderfully crafted in the womb of a woman I hadn’t even met. My entire outfit hand-picked for me. From the top of my bald head to the bottom of my pale, un-calloused feet.
But I bet my scream for the breath of life sounded just like yours.
I bet it sounded just like Ahmaud’s did 26 years ago.
Just like Sean Reed’s.
And Atatiana Jefferson’s.
And Alton Sterling’s.
And Mike Brown’s.
And Tamir Rice’s.
And Philando Castile’s.
And Freddie Gray’s.
Nevertheless, my scream eventually faded off and learned the systematic art of constraint and control; muscle atrophy at its finest and its most deadly.
I’m not sure Ahmaud was ever granted that privilege. The privilege of blissful, ignorant silence.
Instead, he died by the hands of violent men. He died fighting violent men with violent voices and violent hearts.
Yet, here I sit in my violent silence.
It’s deafening at times.
Because “there comes a time when silence is betrayal,” and I will be remembered for what I chose not to say.
A time where I will question who I betrayed the most.
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”
So is your conscience awake? Or is it just wearing the mask of being “woke?”
Too many people have died fighting for their basic human right of life. Too many others never had that choice.
Oh, but I get to choose. If my privilege has afforded me anything; it is the undeniable freedom of choice. The choice to remain silent and diagnosed, or the choice to open my eyes, rise up and speak.
If you bow your head for grace before you sleep, if you jog in your neighborhood as a healthy pastime and not from being chased, if you drive your car with a fearless mind, if you shop at your local grocery store, if you play loud music, if you sit in your house surrounded by family, if you live and breathe, if you dream of a better tomorrow for your children…
Please, choose the latter.
I can never know the fear, the reality, the suffering. I can never imagine the pain that has been inflicted or the tears that have soaked the pillows of too many mothers.
But I can humble myself.
I can repent.
I can act.
When this news cycle passes; what then?
Whose names will you remember?
Who will you chose to break your silence for?
The violence of white silence.
Those words haunt me.
But they will not remain true of me.
*quotes borrowed from Martin Luther King Jr.