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White silence

Photos courtesy of Ann Marie Nee-Placas, Dave Stieber & Janine Givens-Belsley.

Photos courtesy of Ann Marie Nee-Placas, Dave Stieber and Janine Givens-Belsley

Racism is a Caucasian illness that people of color have been saddled with the burden of curing. For centuries, the spread of this disease has been meticulously planned and nurtured in churches, neighborhoods, schools and executive board rooms occupied exclusively by Caucasians. In those monochromatic spaces, there have always been Caucasians who knew the racist actions/intentions of their fellow citizens were morally incongruous with the laws of human decency, but all too often those individuals kept their objections to themselves. The myth is that racism is still alive and well because of White supremacist groups. Nothing could be further from the truth. Racism runs on the fuel of White silence. White silence is the refusal of socially aware, non-racist Caucasians to aggressively protest racism.

"I have a responsibility to speak out against racism for those whose lives grind against the friction of its oppressive effects." Ann Marie Nee-Placas, Photographer

“I have a responsibility to speak out against racism for those whose lives grind against the friction of its oppressive effects.” Ann Marie Nee-Placas, photographer

“If you are silent in the face of racism, you are no better than the person exhibiting the racist behavior. In this case, silence is NOT golden. Injustice will continue to occur unless we (Whites) address the problem when we see it.” Adam Nissen, Mount Carmel High School History Teacher

Opposing racial injustice is a lonely and dangerous place. While people of color have lived in that lonely and dangerous place in American society since its inception, it is a foreign land to most Caucasians. And for those Caucasian activists who have traveled to that land, some of them have never returned: Andrew Goodman, Viola Liuzzo, Pastor James Reeb and Michael Schwerner. But loss of life is not the primary concern/fear preventing morally upstanding Caucasians from speaking truth to power in present day America. Their primary concern/fear is what they must sacrifice to take that stand: privilege.

"I speak up against racism, because White people are ultimately responsible for perpetuating racism and allowing it to continue for so long, therefore we must be the ones to wake up and start actively working to stop it." Dave Stieber, Educator and Activist

“I speak up against racism, because White people are ultimately responsible for perpetuating racism and allowing it to continue for so long, therefore we must be the ones to wake up and start actively working to stop it.” Dave Stieber, educator and activist

“The cost of being uncomfortable (loss of privilege) is more important to them (Whites) than the benefits of doing what is right.” Grace Woo, Registered Nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

When Caucasians take stands against racism, they are rejecting their White privilege. White silence allows Caucasians to keep a seat at the table of White privilege while providing them with the peace of mind/plausible deniability of not being active participants in racial oppression. And the advantage of having a seat at that table is the difference between walking the red carpet and having to enter through the kitchen. Speaking of red carpets, Hollywood is a prime example of White Silence at work. How many of this year’s Academy Award nominees have addressed the issue of racial exclusion? Without a doubt, there are more nominees than Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo who know that Hollywood has a race problem, but the others may be weighing what they could lose if they speak out against the very people who control their livelihood. On the evening of the Academy Awards, the nominees will smile, applaud and pretend that Hollywood has no race problem. But then again, is it pretending if you truly believe that racism does not affect your life?

 "Silence in the face of racism is the equivalent of acceptance and even approval. I neither accept nor approve racism, so I speak up." Janine Givens-Belsley, Managing Director at Achievement Network

“Silence in the face of racism is the equivalent of acceptance and even approval. I neither accept nor approve racism, so I speak up.” Janine Givens-Belsley, managing director at Achievement Network

“I think that a lot of White people are able to stay silent because their everyday life isn’t impacted by the injustice that they rationally know is happening around them.” Avery Miller, Paralegal

Many Caucasians see racism as an issue for people of color, because racism does not affect their Caucasian existence. Their children do not have to attend underperforming schools. They are not victims of police harassment and brutality. Generational poverty and illegal imprisonment are not chapters in their social narrative. Therefore, it becomes simple for socially aware, non-racist Caucasians to ignore the evils of racism, because it has not encroached upon their world.

The cure for racism rests in the hands of Caucasians. But as long as White Silence prevents socially aware, non-racist Caucasians from addressing the sickness, nothing will change. The cycles of oppression countered by the activism of the oppressed will continue. People of color will address the many tentacles of racism with little to no assistance from Caucasians who would rather stand on the side of road watching a protest and telling themselves and their children that it is just another parade.


4 Comments

  1. Tonya Bunn on February 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Wait for it…………

  2. Nigg_Newton on February 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I don’t see — WHITE PRIVILEGE. I see — White Racism.

  3. MsLady Lifestylecoach on February 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Obadiah
    Chapter 1
    + Text Size —

    1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord GOD concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.
    2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.
    3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?
    4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.
    5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?
    6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!
    7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.
    8 Shall I not in that day, saith the LORD, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
    9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.
    10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
    11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
    12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
    13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;
    14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.
    15 For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.
    16 For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.
    17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
    18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.
    19 And they of the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead.
    20 And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.
    21 And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.

  4. moh233211 on February 18, 2016 at 9:18 am

    This is an amazing article and I am sharing. I believe white people need to understand they are hurting themselves too, by remaining silent. http://myhumanity.live/2016/01/02/liabilities-of-white-privilege-how-white-privilege-hurts-white-people/