I was in the elevator at work one day when another woman got on, a white woman. She looked at my satin floral dress and string of pearls and complemented me. I thanked her. Then she added, "you look like Michelle Obama." I froze and pursed my lips but managed to stretch out to a half smile. I wanted to tell her "excuse me, but I was wearing pearls, Gap, Banana Republic, classic sweaters and pencil skirts LONG before the campaign stylists slapped it on her to make her look more accessible. And do I really look like I have a sinister 'I'm going to eat your young' look on my face?" But I kept silent.
After the inauguration my office was all atwitter about the new BLACK president we had. Praising every inch of him as if he lost a digit of a finger it'd have been worshipped as a holy relic. I wanted to scream "HE'S A SOCIALIST! And what do you really KNOW about him anyway? He is NOT all that! Michelle is NOT pretty! He will RUIN us!" But I put on my iPod, and kept silent.
I happened to be walking past the office of a higher up and caught wind of a conversation about the health care debate. I overheard two people, who I'd hoped would have been more mature and objective about things, especially considering that they were both former military, speaking about how the white Republicans just wanted to keep blacks from getting anything. I wanted to yell into the office "you know, I'm REALLY disappointed in you all! Boy, if only you really knew about me and what I believe! Would you still have that to say to me? Would you try to find a reason to fire me? Would you too think I was a traitor to my race?" But I kept silent.
Oftentimes I ask myself, why do I have to keep silent? I thought we were supposed to be more open to discourse now? I want to shout at the top of my lungs and be as loud and in your face as so many on the left. But then I remember, sometimes it's better to speak softly, or not at all, and carry a big stick. I remind myself that people that far gone will be disinclined to hear the words I say anyway, so I should be more about action to bring about change. Since I still have to live in this world, avoid potential violence, and keep my job (Lord knows I can't afford to lose that right now!), it's probably best that I do remain silent. But make no mistake about it, I will make my sentiments known through my actions. I will be a part of the silent resistance. I will deal with the temporary inconvenience of having to hold my tongue, so that maybe one day, my son, and others in the future, won't be forced into silence.