“Silence is consent.”
By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (1/20/17)
Since Trump’s minority victory there have been about a thousand reports nationwide of harassment and violence against the full range of minorities. American Muslims have been especially targeted and women wearing the hijab especially so. There was one incident that really stuck in my memory. Certainly the act itself was not the worst of what we have seen and it wasn’t just the action I found so disturbing as the inaction on display. The event happened three days before Christmas.
A middle-aged white woman in a J.C. Penny store in a Kentucky mall began yelling at two young Hispanic women at the check-out lane: “Just go back wherever the f*ck you came from,” she said, and then asked the cashier to intervene. “Tell them to go back where they belong. You know, they come here to live and they act like they’re everybody else. Get in the back of the line like everybody else does.”
So that’s the action: crude, cruel and all too frequent these days.
The inaction was the fact that none – absolutely none – of the J.C. Penny employees, managers or other shoppers said a word; no one stepped forward to be with these two young women. The mall management did issue a statement later that the woman may be banned from the mall for life.
As a white middle-aged male I and all my other white male brothers have a special duty in these dark days of nativist race baiting and hate speech: we need to speak out against such behavior. While the white nationalist “alt-right” (call ’em what they are: Nazis) will peddle their hate and their advisers like Brietbart’s Steve Bannon will whisper dark lies in Donald Trump’s ear, white men in this nation need to speak up and out against all forms of hate.
With freedom comes responsibility
It’s not right, but our white privilege does gives us more freedom to act and speak but with that comes a deep responsibility to speak out against hate and to speak up in unity and brotherhood with anyone who is being harassed for their race, gender, ethnic or religious background, sexuality or class.
My friend and Commoner Call colleague Dennis Brault always points out that “Silence is consent.”
We white men cannot – must not – stand by in silence for to do so is to give consent to the bigots and bullies, the race baiters and xenophobes. In the end it is not the actions of those fueled by hate that determine the day, it is the silence and apathy of those who see and hear but say nothing.
So, my fellow white men, it is time to speak boldly on the side of justice. You can begin by listening to the powerful OnPont interview with Michael Eric Dyson, below.
Michael Eric Dyson’s ‘Sermon To White America’
OnPoint Radio (1/17/17)
Michael Eric Dyson’s fiery challenge to white America: stop ignoring the injustices facing black America. He’s with us.
A tense weekend after civil rights leader and Rep. John Lewis called the president-elect an illegitimate president. To some it’s symbolic of a greater racial tension in the U.S. Sociologist, activist and minister Michael Eric Dyson has a fiery call to action for white America. To stop violence against black Americans. To acknowledge Black pain. This hour On Point: race relations in America with Michael Eric Dyson.
- Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University. Author of the new book, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America.” Contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and contributing editor at the New Republic and ESPN’s the Undefeated. (@MichaelEDyson)
- New York Times: A Cry From the Heart: Michael Eric Dyson Addresses Race Head-On — “his is a book that will anger some readers, especially those who reject Dyson’s central premise: that if we want true racial equality in America, whites themselves must destroy the enduring myths of white supremacy. Even sympathetic readers might mistake this extraordinary work for merely a catalog of white sins.”