Some people are staying silent out of grief, out of a need for time and space to process their emotions.
Some people are staying silent out of fear—
fear of the police,
fear for the safety of their families,
fear of backlash,
fear of looking dumb,
fear of losing followers, friends, or employment,
fear of being accused of “jumping on the bandwagon,”
fear of saying something unintentionally naive or ignorant,
fear of confrontation,
fear of domestic abuse from someone who disagrees,
fear of their own hypocrisy.
Some people are staying silent out of ignorance—they want to be more informed before they speak out. Perhaps they want to learn more about the impact of systemic racism and white privilege before they form their opinions. Perhaps they feel ill-equipped to make a statement. Their silence is based on a lack of understanding which they wish to rectify. “I’ll speak out once I know more.”
Some people are staying silent out of a different type of ignorance—an unwillingness to see or engage with the situation. “It will all blow over soon.”
I suppose, there are, perhaps, some people so sheltered from the news, people who have a very curated, limited, and filtered view of the world, who genuinely are unaware of what is happening around them. It is hard for me to believe that anyone in the 21st century can live under a rock that big and pervasive, but I don’t deny the possibility.
Some people are staying silent because they have nothing nice to say, so are choosing to say nothing at all.
Some people are staying silent out of confusion—they are getting mixed messages from the leaders of the country, from the media, from the people around them and they don’t know who to believe or how to feel. Maybe their instincts, their intellect, their ingrained bias are all at war within them.
Some people are staying silent out of apathy—they’re tired of hearing about race, tired of the news and the media. Perhaps this apathy stems from a feeling of overwhelmed helplessness. Perhaps that has festered overtime and turned to an underlying bitterness and resentment.
What are ‘valid’ reasons for silence?
Which ones should be questioned, pushed back against?
Who is your silence serving?
What is your silence saying?