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Friday, June 19, 2015

Silence During a Tragedy

When a tragedy strikes a nation, one cannot remain silent. This is what I learned over the past couple years by watching my Facebook feed go up in frenzy time and time again, trying to understand and let the conversation transform me, and reflecting on my own silence.

Two days ago, a young, white supremacist entered a church in Charleston and shot 9 black people who were praying. The tragedy quickly filled the front pages of the news, and I watched my friends on Facebook post articles about whether this should be labeled a terrorist attack, about why the Confederate flag was not lowered at the statehouse, about how we only speak about mental illness if the shooter is white, about how it's far better to have Rachel Dolezal ignite our conversation about race rather than dead bodies, and about the enormous violence inflicted on the black community over and over and over. 

Throughout all this, I remained silent. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to add to the conversation, so I just listened and thought. Until a friend shared a link to a post that asked the allies to speak up and do something, and I decided to be silent no more. Because I did not want the absence of my words to be misunderstood as indifference. One cannot stay silent when a tragedy strikes a nation. We have to speak up -- even if we don't know what to say, at the very least we can acknowledge the injustice and express our pain, our grief. So that's what I'm doing today. I'm sorry I've been silent.

In solidarity, in justice, in love,

Irina

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