The Privilege of Silence in the Persistence of Trauma


[Public Domain Image]

As we head toward the weekend, our nation is reeling from the challenging events of the last few days. Our week began with explosive devices in New York and New Jersey, and then, a suspect was detained. It continued with the news that three black people have been killed by police officers — Tyree King, thirteen years old; Terence Crutcher, father of four; and Keith Lamont Scott, father of seven. We are ending our week with mass protests and reports of rioting.

Many of us feel fear and anger. . .
Many of us long for real solutions. . .
Some of us are afraid of our own feelings.

And ultimately, this is problematic.
Black lives matter more than white feelings.

In the face of racism and state violence, there are more than enough temptations for white people to remain silent. Sometimes, we are afraid of saying the wrong thing and causing more harm. But other times, within ourselves, we are tempted to silence our thoughts and empathy too. Rather than grapple with the reality of systemic racism, we are tempted to move toward denial and blame. And if we feel inconvenienced by it all — hearing about it, feeling through it, or acting against it — we can simply walk away from the conversation. It does not endanger our lives to do so.

And this is a total privilege, because black people and other minoritized communities simply cannot do the same. As a white person, I cannot speak for people of color or represent their full experiences. But I can share some of what I hear.

This is what I want to share today:

While white people choose whether or not to grapple with racism —
at times, fearing their feelings more than the loss of human lives;
at times, turning the shields of denial and blame into weapons —
Black people live with the threat of continual trauma.

Black people live daily with the threat of continual trauma.

We’re invited to listen, wake up to this reality, and act. Silence is a privilege. It is also a form of violence when it bolsters the very racist systems which continue to cause death, discrimination, detention, and despair.

Let’s listen and be led by black voices directly. Here is a powerful video from KevOnStage:

Renee Roederer

“The Privilege of Silence in the Persistence of Trauma” was also published on the Huffington Post. If you would like to follow more from Renee Roederer, you can subscribe to Smuggling Grace or follow her at @renee_roederer.



3 thoughts on “The Privilege of Silence in the Persistence of Trauma

  1. Thank you.. I am truly scared for my sons and my grandson.. honestly what are we to do.. we can’t live in fear of the people who are supposed to protect us..again I say thank you for this blog..


    1. Thank you for your very kind words. I’m concerned too. . . I think we need big, national action. I’ve been interested in what Shaun King has been proposing. Another large scale, boycott movement. Lots to think about. Sending good love and energy toward you, your sons, and grandson.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s