Monday, September 21, 2015

White Silence

I heard about White Silence for the first time last night. Here are some links and things I found just now when researching this online to learn more:

This is an excerpt from The University of Vermont:

White silence is experienced by members of the White culture who, during discussions of racial issues, experience negative emotions including guilt and anger. When these feelings are not addressed, Whites begin to resist certain content areas. This resistance takes on the form of White silence.

I feel called to examine and make sense of White silence because as a White woman I have used my own silence as a mask for my inner thoughts. In addition to observing my own silence, I have become aware of the silence of White colleagues. In these settings our collective silence has created “white [sic] racial bonding” which then emphasizes racial boundaries or we-they boundaries (Sleeter, 1996, p. 261). What part do I play in creating the boundaries and how does this affect those not involved in the bonding? As a student affairs professional I am concerned with my ability to act as a true ally and role model for students when I am silenced by my own prejudices. Also, I cannot challenge my White peers to shed their shield of silence until I have removed my own. (read more here:

Below is and excerpt from an article called:
White Privilege and the Deadly Effect of Silence from the, by Linda Louden, 5/11/15:

When it comes to race, White Americans perform a peculiar, if not predictable dance. You know the steps: A race-related event triggers outrage. We dive into analyzing the fall out. We search for who we can blame, identify the systems we can declare broken, and dissect the participants' lives. We cast our vote for the most-likely-to-blame, and after passing judgement many of us sigh with relief and think, "I'm not like that person; I'm not a racist." Others instead declare, "That wasn't about race. We should quit making everything about color." With the issue resolved in our minds, most of our White American conversation about racism falls silent.

But racism doesn't fall silent. It screams in the latest headlines time after time. And it won't stop screaming until we, as Whites, make our next move in the dance a move toward advancing the national conversation about racism. To do that, Whites need to look past headlines and into ourselves and the near panic that comes over most of us when race becomes the topic of conversation. What many White Americans don't realize is White silence and refusal to closely examine ourselves are two of the most insidious elements that foster the racism that persists in the fabric of our country. We need to make the connection between our silence and its more obvious and often deadly consequences -- the disproportionate incarceration of Black men, the killing of unarmed Black men by police.

For folks like myself, silence on racial issues is a luxury, a privilege and a choice. I am a White, heterosexual, highly educated, upper middle class professional woman. I have more privileges than these, but you get the idea. In my circles, when I talk, people tend to listen. When it comes to social justice issues, I can handpick which issues ignite my passion. I can pick up them up and put them down at my convenience if I decide they aren't mine to live because I have the privileged choice to be silent.  
There are few conversations that elicit more uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure than those about race in this country. White silence shields us from risk by avoiding conflict with our White peers and with others with different racial backgrounds. Silence hides our guilt (or lack of guilt), conceals our racist biases against those who are not like us, and masks our habit of automatically crossing the street when a Black man approaches. Silence insulates us from our fear of being shamed for offending someone. Silence also keeps us from being overwhelmed by how helpless we feel to make a difference. Silence allows us to be blissfully distracted by our privileged day-to-day, and perpetuates our ignorance. With enough days in a row of silence, we can disappear so far behind our choices to keep our mouths tightly shut that we forget how good we've got it in our bubble.
(read more here:

Below is an excerpt from called White Silence Kills 9 in Charleston by Jamilah Lemieux who says it's time to stop acting like Black people can end racism (6/19/15):

White people, know this: your silence is consent. Your silence is complicity. Your silence is violence. 
If White Americans by and large wanted to end racism, they would. Period. Complacency may stymie some (I would imagine it’s hard to sum up the passion to do social justice work on behalf of Black liberation if the only Black people you ever encounter are on a television set); agreement is the culprit for others. But it’s time to acknowledge that White folks have to be the one to stop the future White-supremacist terrorists of the world, because the folks who hate us will never care about our tears.
(read more here:

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