Advanced Essay #2: Silence


This essay is about sensitivity in society today and the silencing of literacy today. People are too scared to speak their opinion because people keep telling them its offensive and through this essay I had explained the ideas which surround the silencing of people. This had been the goal, to portray this idea to the world. One thing I am proud of is the analysis on the quote and I think it had been used well and supported my argument clearly. Improvements for my essay in the future, I would like to have a better written, stronger scene. I think that it is the section which needs the most work.

Advanced Essay

As a child, I had grown up in a majority white neighborhood and went to a majority white elementary school. Then I had changed schools in middle school and suddenly, half of my new class had been African American. This was a new experience for me and I didn’t really know what to do. I could tell they had been different from me in appearance but I still didn’t know if they had been different from me in any other way. I was still innocent at the time and more curious than I should have been.

   We had been watching a movie in class and there had been a short scene where this little boy a been pretending to be this gangster with his friend and I didn’t know why they would want to act like that. After the movie, I had raised my hand and asked my teacher, “Why are those kids acting like thugs cause I had thought that thugs weren’t supposed to be good people?”

   The response that my teacher gave had been some kind of nonsense about kids imagination which I as a kid bought but the key thing that I remember from that day is this kid from across the classroom calling out, “They were trying to act black.” To this day I don’t know who it was but what I do know is what my teacher did in response to it was not the right thing.

   “Be quiet, and don’t say something like that ever again,” with a stern and serious look on his face. I was scared. I thought it had simply been an attempted joke but according to my teacher is was like forbidden language. Today I understand the comment had been racist but when I was a child, I didn’t get the explanation I needed.

All throughout middle school I remembered living is worry that I might say something about black people that may offend them. It was hard because I didn’t understand what was right and what was wrong so my choice was just to stay silent. Not a single word had come out of my mouth whenever anything about black people had come up.

If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it. 

Every student hears this in school but what defines something as not nice. Something you say to one kid may mean something else to another kid. The only things this statement does is silence students and instill fear into them that language isn’t free to speak and thought is not free to think. This idea poisoned me and still poisons the lives of students all over the US.

In the story How to Tame a Wild Tongue, they had been talking about how you cannot adopt an accent into a language but instead, you must get rid of it all together and the author makes the claim, “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,”(Anzaldúa). When people are offended by a specific phrase, they aim to suppress it or ban it all together. As more and more thing become considered “offensive” by society, we will have a world full of mute men and women who dare not to say a word. When relating this quote to this theme, it states we cannot control the use of offensive language, we must discard it and language cannot be discarded. Every word has to mean, and to every person, that meaning is different. As a society, we should understand that that words spoken should not be taken in our own perspective but in the speaker's perspective.

The easy choice is to be silent, the harder decision is to speak.

It does not take a lot of effort to sit in a classroom quietly all day and then at the end of the day just leave and go home. It takes courage and strength to speak about what your opinions and what you believe it. Instead of focusing how some words offend you, you should focus on the message they are trying to get across. Show compassion and empathy for them and put yourself in their shoes. It is not easy to raise your hand and confidently speak to the class. Any teacher would prefer to hear people’s unique perspectives rather than nothing at all.

The world is slowly becoming silenced and slowing our growth as a society. People’s sensitivity is driving this silence which is putting our advancement as a society to a stalemate. People should speak their opinion, every opinion should be heard no matter the topic, and those opinions should be understood rather than silenced. This is the only way we will progress as a society.

Works Cited

Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands = La Frontera. San Francisco: Aunt Lute, 1999. Print.