Breaking the Culture of Silence

Updated: May 16, 2021

Dear Africana Woman,

I did not realise this but we have a Culture of Silence. It is so normal in our day to day lives you may not believe me. I had prepared a totally different post but this thought slapped me in the face and I had to address it. I know you are thinking, "I speak up at work. I have no problems telling my kids to get in line. In fact, I command an army called domestic and professional staff. I am never silent. What are you talking about?"

My question to you is this: Are you able to freely talk about your inner most heart's desires and your emotions?

The reason why I noticed this Culture of Silence is because I recently did a talk called the Power of African Women. I was expecting majority of the audience to be African Women and in my mind I fantasized about the lively conversation we would have. Some African Women attended, not as many as I thought would. I spoke passionately and gave a call to action. Then we opened up for a discussion and it was like crickets from my peoples. Eh!

On another occasion, I created a support group for 2020 brides. This has been such a challenging period for many brides; there is uncertainty and grief for the loss of their dreams. So I made this a safe space and vetted all the members. What happened was the women wanted to consume but not contribute. That is not how community works.

I am not bashing anyone, because even I am not immune to this. I am quite vocal in professional settings. I actually go into meetings and tell myself to keep quiet, but it's like I have an internal itching that I just have to let out. I have been trained academically to be vocal and have had plenty of experience. But in my personal life, if someone hurts me or over stepped boundaries, I am not able to say out loud how that made me feel. It feels like the words are stuck in my throat and there is a knot in my chest. Then I tell myself, I will let this one slide. Truth is I have amassed a lifetime of slides, and what I am actually doing is teaching people how to continuously treat me badly.