Confronting Racism

 Glenn Bigonet, M.A.

Social Activist for Racial Equity

Facilitating Discussions about Racism

 

617-462-6642

gbigonet@icloud.com

           

 

White Silence

 

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and

actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

White silence is a major part of white fragility that supports systemic racism and white supremacy. White silence is a cultural norm of staying silent around racism so as to not upset the other whites around us. In moments when we do speak up we are often quickly corrected and pushed to step back into silence. A lot of this push back is in response to our white fragility and our intolerance for the discomfort that acknowledging racism causes but this forced silence reinforces racism by leaving racist acts and attitudes left unchecked. Layla Saad takes the stance that "White silence is also a defending of the status quo of white supremacy - a manifestation of holding onto one's white privilege through inaction."(p.54) Certainly whenever we fail to act against white supremacy we are passively supporting it.

 

In moments in which we stay silent when racial harm is being purpetrated in front of us we are also causing the minority being harmed to experience a microagression from us. When we fail to speak up and say something then we are betraying the oppressed in that moment and increasing the level of harm. Often victims can feel more hurt by someone not speaking up and stopping the racism than the harm of the racism itself. This sense of abandonment can leave them feeling completely unsafe around people with white privilege. The only way we can support people of color is to speak up and say something when racial harm is occurring. 

Copyright © 2020   Glenn Bigonet, M.A.