Last week the statement: “Silence Implies Consent” rang true to me with the death of George Floyd.
I first heard: “Silence implies consent” when I was seven years old in Omaha, Nebraska while sitting around the kitchen table with my eight siblings and my widowed mother. As a half-orphan, I listened to my oldest brother, Peter who was the family patriarch.
When Peter first told me that “Silence implies consent,” he was referring to a small infraction. Now, it means so much more to me than ever before.
Silence implies consent tells me how we should respond to social injustices in our world. We have choices. We can either be victims of the circumstances (say nothing and do nothing) — or lead.
If we choose silence we are basically saying, “It’s OK.” Silence gives fundamental permission. Silence allows us to stand by and watch someone struggle for his breath for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Silence gives permission to events that rub against the grain of social justice and human decency. Social injustices are everywhere. We must be alert to opportunities to be the voice of change when they are available. Our centuries old white privileges are taken for granted.
Now, we see everyday Americans say, “George Floyd’s death was murder.” Protests in every state of our country show us this. From small conservative towns like Sioux Falls, S.D. to New York City, people gather to say that his death was wrong; like so many other black lives which were taken without cause. We as a country are starting to shout, “I can’t breathe.”
Young, old, rich, poor, sad, and angry protesters gather to repeat and say again that social injustice is wrong. “No justice. No Peace.” They gather to comfort their hearts and to be heard. The rage inside of those who have been oppressed runs Britain, Germany, France, Syria, Brazil, Mexico, and Ireland have shown up, stood up, and spoken up as well. People of all ages and ethnicity are showing up to speak truth to power. People show up, stand up, and speak up to say, “It’s not OK.” Racism, social justice and human rights are endemic and are a major national and global threat.
My conversations with my black and brown brothers and sisters have demonstrated clearly to me that racism exists locally. I called my son, my sisters and my brothers as I was provoked by current events. One told me he was held at gunpoint when working late in East Lyme. Another told me that her husband was stopped bringing home pizza for his family. A third, told me she was regularly stopped when returning from the beach. The injustices my friends suffered hurts me. My friends have been stopped in East Lyme for no reason. Police say that they look suspicious leaving work or grabbing a pizza. My friends walk in fear through our neighborhoods. They bring a child or a dog to show neighbors that they belong on their block.
I am sad, mad, disheartened, and ashamed. I hope to show up, stand up and speak up so that these injustices do not continue. Our road will be uphill, long, and arduous.
We must understand racism so that we can address all of its hidden facets. Diversity training helps to discern biases and privileges. Prejudice, discrimination, bias, and white supremacy are long standing realities. Many of us have become unintentionally complicit because the system serves us. When we choose to show up differently and speak out against institutional racism, we take the first step towards social justice. Being sorry is not enough. Crying is not enough. We have hard work to do and it is for the long haul. Our history is one of 400 years of systemic racism.
Some questions all of us need to ask: Are you involved in town politics? Are you registered to vote? Will you vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020? Do you know who the candidates are? Do you know what they stand for? Will they listen to you? Will they help you find justice? Will they support you in your attempts towards earning a decent minimum and equitable wage, equal access to healthcare and a life without fear?
I am running for State Representative for the 37th District and I want to hear your voice; your story. What has been your injustice? I want to hear your story so I can stand up for social justice. I want to improve social injustices which have occurred. I will listen with my heart. Helping police officers become peace officers will be my first order of business.
- This episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, “George Floyd, the Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper”
- 13th (Ava DuVernay) on Netflix
- 10 Documentaries To Watch About Race Instead Of Asking A Person Of Colour To Explain Things For You
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice
- Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
- SURJ Toolkit: Calling People In about “Violence”
- Listen to and follow the leadership of black and indigenous people.
- Donate to local groups with an explicit racial justice mission, led by directly impacted individuals.
- Dismantle white supremacy in all its forms
- Join SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) – Tompkins County SURJ and National SURJ
- Protest Options: A List of Links to Petitions, Donations, Resources and Education