Silence is also Violence

17 Mar

This must be what it feels liks.

When a car crash happens in front of you

Or someone gets shot right before your eyes.

Disbelief, at first.

Your mind completely blank,

Unable to comprehend that you saw what you just saw

Or more than that,

That you had been unable to do anything

To prevent it

And you felt completely and utterly


What happened this morning may not have been on a scale

Of a car crash or a murder.

It was simply this:

A crowded train,

A sister jostling someone by accident,

And the brother, an older gent, suddenly turning.

Kicking her in the shin,

And saying, “‘Scuse you.”


It may not have been on the same scale,

But as I locked eyes with the sister,

Both of us shocked,

It felt like

Scale or magnitude did not matter.

Because both of us, unable to say anything…

Felt complicit.

I felt complicit in violence.

(Even knowing that there may have been

Extenuating circumstances

Such as mental health disorder,

Poverty,  stress, emasculated manhood,  someone else dissing him).


The silence.

My inability to say–no, my choosing not to say,

“Sir, there was no need to kick her.”

Or even to ask the sister, “Are you okay?”



Like I had no courage to stand against the violence

Done against women of color,

Throughout the ages.

But you know,

Let’s even take it out of that:

Man, woman, privileged class, low-income.

I just felt complicit

In violence.


I am accountable to my silence.

Whether it’s standing by when a woman

Gets kicked in the shin.

Or saying nothing

When someone laughs and says, “That’s so gay,”

Or keeping silent

When U.S. military intervention comes to Libya.

Well, maybe it’s true that this is

Not that serious.

But I just want to throw it out:

To the brother, who kicked a lady in the train:

“Sir, there was no need to kick her,”

And to the sister who was walking though a packed train

And got kicked out of the blue:

“Are you okay?”




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