Silence is too expensive. Whether or not one is personally affected by the topic ; as humans we are all implicitly affected by topics that affect humanity.
In classrooms all over the world, complicit silence can be heard during Black History Month presentations that start with slavery and end with the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. I have observed the lowered countenances of my students when the focus was on slavery and they were forced every year to glare at pictures of shackled human beings carted like cattle and how it did absolutely nothing for their self empowerment.
This weekend, during my Saturday morning ritual to continuously develop professionally, I heard renowned speaker, author, and turn-around Principal Kafele share the importance of educators increasing their own awareness concerning African American history. As I listened to his leadership seminar, I remembered my students’ faces during the presentations that debased their rich history and culture to a mini lens of pain and degradation. A couple of the more vocal ones made comments that were seeded in the embarrassment of always having been shown as a lesser people. Could my silence be the reason a child misunderstands that his real fight is to continue to overcome by knowledge? To know that he carries the seed of greatness. That her fight is to understand how the power to overcome is a part of her DNA. And because of this history on the screen, they can – they must become their ancestors’ dream.
I sincerely apologize to the hundreds of minority students that I have passionately taught every subject except the powerful, rich history of who they truly are.
Forgive my ignorance. Forgive my silence.
In order to move into a different and transformative direction as a great people- ALL VOICES MATTER. Speaking our truth and speaking in support of others who may not have found their voices yet. Our ancestors must be super proud of respected voices, like Principal Kafele and Mr. Clint Smith, III, and the way they use their platforms for courageous speaking that continues to initiate tough conversations that ultimately provoke change for the empowerment of others.
Mr. Clint Smith, an American writer, poet and scholar, shares his thoughts on the danger of silence in this brief, yet profound clip. Also, below a must read authored by Mr. Smith.