#SOL20: Silence


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Simon & Garfunkel, 1964               Sounds of Silence


Hello, Darkness, my old friend,

I’ve come to talk with you again,

Because a vision softly creeping,

Left its seeds while I was sleeping. …

I still recall writing that first dreaded college term paper about the role of imagery in this song as it related to The Graduate. It took forever with numerous false starts and many teacher conferences as I had ZERO clue about what the instructor wanted.  At that stage, writing was all about meeting the perceived needs of the instructor.

Silence at church was a requirement or knuckles were rapped by a ruler-wielding nun who was confident of her identification of the chattering troublemaker (s).

More recently discussions among friends have focused on Catholic guilt and silence. The expectations. The dynamics. Problems that were not aired publicly. Often not even aired privately.  Suffering in silence was a reality.

Growing up and silence was a tool of punishment.  “Be quiet” often buzzed in my ear as I opted to study in “my room” (a room always shared with either a sister or multiple sisters).

Silence.  Friend or Foe? Maybe I should have questioned the evidence and the “cause of death” . Mistakes happen. I do wish I had queried the ever-changing stories. Hindsight is often noisy.



I know.


I must use my White privilege to listen.

I have much to learn. Two books that I am studying in book clubs this summer are:

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I need to understand my biases.

I can rely on friends, family and teammates to support me and call me out on this learning journey.

I have to raise my voice to question and call out White privilege where I see it/hear it.

I will amplify IBPOC voices and support their work.

I must speak up in order to see justice. To remain silent is to be complicit.

I must do this work myself and commit to a lifetime of  anti-racist work even though I don’t know exactly where that journey will take me.

Silent, no more!

Envisioning 2020:  A Year of Action

How will you avoid “silence” in your future?

What actions will you commit to undertaking?

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this weekly forum. Check out the writers and readers here.

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31 Days of IBPOC posts – Link


Sheldon Eakins – “Framing Brave Conversations about Race and Ethnicity” – Link


9 responses

  1. This speaks to me. I’ve been silenced, but I’ve also silenced myself. I need to find the courage to move beyond silence to action. I’m not sure where and how.

    1. Small steps. First steps. I have discovered that waiting does not help! I am a world class ditherer and worrier. Pick one action. See where it leads!

  2. Fran – Reading your post today has so many parallels to me and my upbringing. Here’s post I shared a few years ago with the same title https://wordpress.com/post/theauthorspurpose.com/1479
    In it, I talk about a paper a teacher had me write as a punishment… but it’s something I’ve never forgotten… and I struggle with. I joined the same book clubs as you, Fran. I’m certain it will open our eyes more clearly… I’m looking forward to “interrogating” my own biases so that I can be fully present to the teachers/students I teach/coach and the women I share my faith with through our retreat ministry.

    1. Thanks, Laurie. We have to move on. Looking forward to hearing how your journey progresses.

  3. dianeandlynne | Reply

    Fran, thank you for your invitation to question my biases and to come to terms with my white privilege. Watching the peaceful protest in Washington, D.C. yesterday being pushed back with violence enraged me. Then I thought about what action I could take beyond the usual letter writing. I’ll keep working on it one action at a time.

    1. Oh, Diane. The optics of a church, a Bible and a blatant attack on peaceful protesters 30 minutes before curfew convinced me that speech was necessary!

  4. So many of us are so used to being told to be quiet and not interrupt when others are speaking that we carry this with us into adulthood and instead of speaking out at injustices we remain silent. It is time for everyone to use their voice to speak out for what we know is wrong. There is power in the voice when it is used righteously.

    1. Righteous . . . Righteous speech holds power. Yes. And naming what is wrong.

  5. I was also raised to be silent. I have been reflecting so much on my role and the role my children play. Thank you for your honest reflection and sharing book titles- great suggestions for summer reading.

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