Since the Black Lives Matter protests began, two sayings floated around: “Silence is violence” and “Silence means you’re complicit.” I want to add one.
Since June 1st, I’ve sent emails, Instagram direct messages, and texts asking my friends, loved ones, and colleagues to speak up, if they haven’t already. Some of those people gave nothing.
It’s not merely the silence that hurts. It’s the disregard. None of them have asked if I’m safe. None have asked if my family is safe. None have expressed shock or outrage over how George Floyd and countless other Black Americans have died. None have even said, “All lives matter” or “Make America Great Again,” which would at least let me know where they stand.
It’s total silence.
I know some are pretending the world is fine. Some don’t know what to say. But saying anything is better than silence. What’s wrong with saying, “I don’t know what to say”?
Sometimes, people need time to reflect, and I respect that. Though it feels like we’re into our fifth year of 2020, it’s only been seven days since I sent my first request for something other than silence. I and people like me have felt every emotion in those seven days. We’ve screamed louder than ever. We’ve shared resources, ideas, thoughts, tears . . . and yet, silence.
I woke up this morning feeling nothing but hurt. I am safe in my home. I am loved and protected. I am comfortable.
But all I wanted was for those folks to break that silence.