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Silence is Violence: Why White Folks Need to Stand Up

Last Friday, students walked out of their 1:15 p.m. classes in droves, chanting through the buildings out to the intersection of Academy and Thompson for a teach-in about the black women, cisgender and transgender, who have been murdered at the hands of police.

While I believed the turnout was great, there were many white people who refused to attend.

Now, as a supporter of many who spoke at the teach-in, I know I would drop half an hour of classes in a heartbeat to show my support for black lives.

That said, I realize that some people cannot, and whether it’s things like work, an exam, or not being physically or mentally well enough to participate, I can understand why you wouldn’t be able to attend.

However, I know of several white folks who either decided to ignore the movement, or create excuses about why spending half an hour in classes was more important than showing up to support black lives.

That, my fellow white folks, is violence.

To the white professors in the library that would close their doors and try to talk over the protests happening outside so that your class would not be disrupted by the pain black students are feeling: that is violence.

To the white students who saw the protest and walked right by it because they couldn’t be bothered to listen to what black students have to say: that is violence.

To white students who watch as their fellow white peers post hurtful things on social media about protesting bodies and say nothing: that is violence.

White faculty, staff, and students, what I am trying to get across through this article is that by being silent, by not standing up to support black lives, by actively ignoring the protests that are happening on and off campus, you are perpetuating a system of violence.

Violence is not just the police brutality that happens every day and takes innocent black lives at an alarming rate. Violence happens at home, on our campus, and in our lives.

By not calling people out on their racist remarks, you are perpetuating a system that allows them to get away with those words that oppress black individuals.

We as white folks need to recognize that our silence is not okay, and we cannot continue to ignore black lives because it is inconvenient or uncomfortable for us.

I know it can be scary, especially standing up to people who we view as above us, but our role in destabilizing racism in our communities is by standing up and calling out other white people.

It’s not enough to be non-racist. White folks need to be anti-racist and actively work to break down racist systems we benefit from every day.

White folks, this is our time to stand up against racism, and ignorance is not an excuse. Get educated, stand up, and make a difference.

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Silence is Violence: Why White Folks Need to Stand Up