I’ve spent the last 4 days with a pain in my chest. I know this pain, its real heart ache. Maybe you know it as well. Its all at once numbing and stabbing. Deep heart spilling frustrated pain.

A few short weeks ago I had my bike stolen from outside of my apartment. This violation felt heavy and my anger grew. I loved this bike, it gave me freedom and joy. I cursed myself, I cursed the perpetrator, I cursed a city I love, Oakland. I had two options, stay angry or move on with a new understanding. Tell people and warn them about their own bikes. Be smart in the future about where I lock up, get a stronger lock, don’t trust the ‘it will just be a minute’. The layers of understanding and coping hardened me. I told myself, ‘honey this is the world you live in so get used to it.’ This was only a small act of violence.

The disbelief returns so quickly as I bumble through the Facebook posts of friends from the UVA community, hear riots on the street where I live, and gasp through NPR stories of a 12 year-old kid being shot in a park.
Part of my disbelief is being naive no doubt. Trusting that most peoples intentions are good and that love always comes out on top. But now more than ever I know that this is not true. Violence is winning.

Silence is as big of a threat as the violence we use towards each other. If a premeditated gang rape just about the worst thing you’ve ever heard then where on your scale of violence are also the people who say NOTHING. Not just the other guys who know whats happened or the friends of the victim but the whole administration—-failure to go against the norm and say SOMETHING. Violence is winning.

Its debilitating to see the lack of respect for women. Its not just at UVa or in the NFL or Bill Cosby. There is small violence towards us everyday. And similar to the Brown case there is violence towards colored people, EVERYDAY. And maybe its most effective because it is easy to keep us silent. Easy to maintain the violence.

What are you protecting Wilson and Sullivan? What do the unsaid words keep you from? Is it pain you fear or a lack of respect? What happened to your heart. I have my own failures of not speaking up, to keep something from happening, to stop it from going too far. I live with those choices everyday, and I wish only that I had lead with my heart. I wish that I hadn’t kept silent.

And you do too, I’m sure, have instances when violence won. When you remained silent. Or you have the chance now, instead of getting comfortable at the thanksgiving table to be reckless with your heart. To talk with friends and share the reality, painful and scary as it is. Don’t avoid it, speak about it. We all have an ability to create and endure violence. My hope is that we ACT against it, in the moment, when its needed most. Say NO and mean it or fill the streets in protest. Wake the fuck up. Maybe it will put an end to the one thing we can control, our silence.

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