+The Silence is Deafening
But why are you listening?
Over the last few weeks, as America has watched its proverbial chickens come home to roost, I have seen these words repeated over and over on social media. The first week I ignored it but the more silence, the more I saw Black women and men repeat the phase to their church mice, white friends. It left me angry and confused.
The first incident of police brutality we all collectively witnessed was Rodney King, We watched the officers beat this man to an inch of his life, then we watched them get off free. I wasn’t surrounded by white people during those years and so I didn’t care one bit. But as life changes and your circle expands these thoughts begin to creep in and you’re forced to address them.
Fast forward to 2012, Trayvon Martin was stalked, chased, and killed by a white Latino man because in his mind Black skin made you a criminal. And just like with the King case he was found not guilty.
As I sat on my bed crying, no calls came.
The Silence…The request for allyship, where were your friends?
Then came Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford Jr., Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Korryn Gaines, and the list goes on and on. Silence…. But I stopped listening. I stopped responding to the “I’m sorry” and “K, we love your sons, they don’t deserve/ shouldn’t have to live like this” messages. Every single one was written in private for our eyes only, and nothing publicly on their social media feeds to reflect this love they shared for my son’s Black Lives. No declaration of love for my own life when Black women were slain, protecting their lives and family.
I stopped listening.
I remember talking to my husband after Korryn Gaines was murdered and him saying “the fact that your white friends aren’t burning this whole thing down, shows that maybe they are friends of convenience.” That hit differently.
I stopped listening.
I owned my humanity, disengaged, a lesson learned from the beautiful, dynamic, resilient Black women and men in my family. A lesson so tightly weaved in my being that not even the white gaze could shake me.
I started focusing on my sons, my husband, my community, my Black Life That Mattered. I threw myself into working the same women that poured into me all while preparing for the next time name, the next hashtag, and it would certainly be another. But what there wouldn’t be was the focus on white silence.
While I write this I see many of my Black friends still asking “Where are you?” almost 4 weeks into this mystical shift and I implore you to stop. I ask you to recognize their complacency, their fear of accountability, and to stop listening for the call that will never come.
Stop listening, stop celebrating their small achievements, and warped allyship.