Your silence is a privilege. Speaking up could save a life. And here’s why.
Have you ever gone through bystander training? Or, heard the phrase “if you see something, say something”? That’s because silence is a privilege. Silence is a choice.
This post is channeling that energy. For some, speaking out is not an option. Women in my family have experienced domestic violence, and speaking out, at the time, didn’t feel like an option.
But for others, for those not involved, but witnessing, for those that suspected something was, is, wrong…Your silence is a privilege.
Clint Smith: The Danger of Silence
We all have had times that we can think back and wish we would have said something. Wish we would have done the right thing, instead of laughing along to fit in. Instead of turning a blind eye. Why do we remain silent in the face of injustice? Why do we remain silent when we know we can make a difference?
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Before we answer those questions, we need to honestly admit to ourselves that our silence in these situations is a privilege. We have the privilege to turn a blind eye. A privilege to use our silence to fit in. For others, silence is not a choice.
Your silence will not protect you.Audre Lorde
Many times, we may remain silent out of fear. Fear of being challenged, fear of facing backlash, fear of not fitting in. But, your silence is a privilege, and “your silence will not protect you” (Lorde).
We need to look deep and examine why we don’t speak out. Why we hold our tongue and swallow our beliefs. Is it because we are scared? Are we ashamed of aligning ourselves with a marginalized group? Are we just trying to appease? For whatever reason, when we don’t speak out, we are failing those who need it most. We are rejecting them.
Validation needs no words.Clint Smith
That time you felt uncomfortable while your friends made sexist jokes? Silence is validation.
The time that you held your tongue, while someone stated blatantly racist opinions? Your silence is validation.
When you laughed at the ableist joke you heard, even though you knew it was wrong? Your silence is validation.
When you’re the brunt of the joke, everyone that sat idly by, laughed, or simply said nothing at all, seem to be in silent agreeance that your existence is comical. That your existence is less than. Thus, for those privileged enough to remain silent, your voice is imperative. To speak out and stand in the face of injustice, is to acknowledge the existence of someone else. It is to use your privilege for good. To speak out is to make a difference with your voice, and set an example.
I’m crazy enough to believe that change can start with a conversation. But, if we want to move forward, we need to start using our voices to initiate these conversations.
How to Use Your Privilege and #SpeakOut
The #SpeakOut campaign was inspired by this very idea. Audre Lorde’s quote, “Your silence will not protect you.” It is a powerful one that I carry with me day today.
It may be hard, it may be uncomfortable, but speaking out does more than you know. You never know what someone is going through, and what your words can mean to them.
And you never know what kind of impact your words can have. When you #SpeakOut, you’re planting a seed. You’re challenging problematic beliefs. Those beliefs may not change today, or tomorrow, or ever, but you’ve shown that not everyone stands with those beliefs, and, more importantly, that they’re not ok.
They may think twice about speaking on them. They may think twice about harboring those beliefs. But when you #SpeakOut, you’re using your privilege for good.
This is the essence of the #SpeakOut apparel. Our silence will not protect us. Because, while we may laugh today, it may be our community, our identity on the line tomorrow.
So, it’s time we step up, #SpeakOut, and become the allies that we would want to have.
If you want to be a better ally, then listen to those you align with. Listen to their struggles, and take accountability for the times that you’ve contributed to those struggles.
Albeit, this is not an easy process, but this is a meaningful, important, and necessary one.
Not a single one of us is perfect, and I’ve had to do this process myself. Follow people on Twitter that belong to the community you wish to learn more about. Amplify their voices when possible, and speak out against injustice towards them always. As an ally, you have a certain privilege and power, as an ally, it is your responsibility to use it for good.
If you want to support the #SpeakOut campaign, you can here!