What’s in a Word: ‘Silence is Complicit’

I named this blog back in February of 2010, with the goal of having it be a place for conversation about gender, politics, and race.  I remember naming it after reading Audre Lorde, and could swear the name came from her, but I cannot find the quote.  So I will say it is ‘Audre Lorde inspired.’

However, the origin of this phrase is not as important as what it means, and what it has come to mean to me.  ‘Silence is complicit’ comes from the phrase ‘silence is an act of complicity’ which means that to remain silent is to be complicit in the act.

This can have several meanings.  It can mean that to remain silent while someone is attacked, hurt, or physically harmed is to be complicit in the hurting.  Watching someone be killed without doing anything to stop it makes you responsible in some way for the killing.  It can mean that to remain silent while someone is racist or just plain mean is to allow that racism to continue.

This is what it means to me.  It means speaking up when I see something I disagree with.  It means speaking up when I have something to say.  It means being held accountable to my beliefs through my words and my actions. It means thinking of all the fantastic women writers who have come before me who weren’t afraid to speak up.

I am not by nature a talkative person.  I do not like speaking up in groups, nor do I like voicing my ideas unless I am sure of them.  But reminding myself that silence is an act of complicity means that I must find a way to speak out.  I do that through this blog.  All the things I wish I had spoken up about in grad school, all the things I wish I could say to movie producers, all the things I wish I could say to the people I interact with daily – this is where I have the voice to say them.  And this is my action against it.

It’s the beginning of a new year, and I have been revisiting my blog strategies.  Which means revisiting why I named this blog, and why I started it.  In writing this piece, and remembering the importance of ‘silence is complicit’, I am hoping to revitalize this space. I am hoping to be more diligent about bringing voice to the things I want to say but don’t.

This will be the first in a monthly series of what words mean.  I’ll be looking at what words and phrases that are used often in progressive writing and talking about why they are important.  Instead of doing long pieces on things that come up as I think of them, this blog will be more organized.

I hope you enjoy the new feel, and remember that silence is an act of complicity.

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One Response to What’s in a Word: ‘Silence is Complicit’

  1. Pingback: What’s in a Word: ‘Buying American’ | Silence is complicit

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