Krys Méndez

Silence As Complicity

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2013 at 4:30 AM

Audre Lorde_Your silence will not protect you

Audre Lorde was a black feminist lesbian poet, writer, activist, warrior. Nearly 80 years after her birth, her words continue to resonate with those of us who are surviving intersecting oppressions. And her simple, powerful words on silence are also shared by a community of scholars, thinkers, and freedom fighters. Below I’ve listed other quotes that offer a basic, primal message: silence is complicity. Neutrality is complicity. To speak out against injustice is a moral imperative.

Martin Luther King Jr. As Prisoner

Despite systematic efforts to sanitize and depoliticize U.S. history, to obliterate a history of mass genocide, slavery, and exploitation, freedom fighters in this country hardly ever succeeded without confronting the defenders of the status quo. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a veritable freedom fighter who realized that silence is a form of complicity.

Various quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“A time comes when silence is betrayal”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Silence = Death

Famous ACT UP slogan against the silence surrounding the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s/’90s

“[T]here is no such thing as a pure fact, innocent of interpretation. Behind every fact presented to the world–by a teacher, a writer, anyone–is a judgment. The judgment that has been made is that this fact is important, and that other facts, omitted, are not important.”

– Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States


“Academicians, politicians, all the people  that are supposed to be guiding this country say you’ve got to be neutral. As soon as I started looking at that word neutral and what it meant, it became very obvious to me there can be no such thing as neutrality. It’s a code word for the existing system…. Neutrality is just following the crowd. Neutrality is just being what the system asks us to be. Neutrality, in other words, was an immoral act.”

Myles Horton, co-founder of the Highlander Folk School, an incubator for the formation of the U.S. civil rights movement


“Lying is done with words, and also with silence.”

– Adrienne Rich, feminist and activist


“At times to be silent is to lie. You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will notconvince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right.”

– Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish novelist and philosopher


“We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity”

– From the Revolutionary Proclamation of the Junta Tuitiva, La Paz (July 16, 1809); quoted by Eduardo Galeano in Open Veins of Latin America

Silence is a war crime


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