How to Say Nothing is Wrong

by Josh McGarry

This election has brought things into light. Things that were always there, but that most of us turned away from, or dismissed as part of a small but mouthy population of derelicts. Well the morning came, some of us slept, and some of us stayed up all night, watching maps go progressively redder, and hoping that there would be some last minute upset, that it would be okay. Clearly, when the sun came up it wasn’t, stories were already breaking, mothers asking daughters not to wear the Hijab, slurs and deportation threats being hurled, and an active shooting at a polling place. Even right now protests are springing up across the country, people are raising their voices.

But perhaps, in this moment it is important to remember the times we were silent. Remember the co-workers we’ve likely all had, and who you one day hear muttering about that “stupid nigger president” in the back, but whom you did not bother to confront, because he doesn’t even listen to basic instructions, and besides maybe he’ll grow out of it. He’s 18 it has to get better right? Or there’s the men in the truck you hear driving home one night, you hear them shouting over the Smiths on your radio “Who let all these niggers out here.” You clench the wheel and consider briefly how nice it would be to put a bat through their window, but you don’t and you don’t say anything either, and then the light is green, and they are gone, and you did nothing. Or as you wait to renew some papers, you watch a government employee walk an older woman in a Hijab through the papers for her green card. The employee talks in fragments, far too loudly, like she thinks that’ll help someone who is still picking the jumbled mess that is the English language. She talks to this woman who has left behind a life and a language elsewhere like an utter idiot, but you have papers to fill out, and you worry what would happen if you walked over and tell her off. So you keep your head down

These are just some of the small stories of my own life, stories of moments I’m not proud of. Silence is after all complicity, it is saying nothing is wrong please carry on. There are other moments where I have spoken, a friend jovially throwing about faggot, I asked him if he knew where it came from, I explained. He doesn’t use that word anymore even jokingly. And that’s just it, this is the time when we must start speaking to power, we don’t need bats and bricks, but we do need to stand and use our voices.

***

josh

Joshua McGarry hails from Wetzlar, Germany, and now lives in Norfolk where he studies poetry and collects music. He has most recently been published in the Ekphrastic Review.

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