Rechkemmer: Silence is acceptance


Columnist Gracie Rechkemmer urges you to stop being silent and encourage those who have been oppressed for centuries. 

Gracie Rechkemmer

As I sit down to write this column, my anger and frustration grow. Today I was supposed to interview Mazin Mohamedali, the 20-year-old leader of the Iowa Freedom Riders. When I woke up, I read that Mohamedali had been arrested the night before on protest-related charges. He is currently being held without bond for peacefully protesting. 

This is not acceptable. For how long will it be illegal to protest?

A week ago, state and local police assaulted a group of peaceful protesters with flashbangs and tear gas. The protestors, who were mostly students, had their hands up. They were chanting, “Don’t shoot.” Police then used tear gas on the paramedics who were seeking to treat the injured students. 

This is not acceptable. For how long will we value blocked streets and spray painted buildings more than human lives? 

When I begin to type “George Floyd” into a search bar, the first suggested search is “George Floyd criminal past.” Why is this relevant? When I scroll through any social media platform, I see an extremely concerning amount of people making excuses. For police, for public officials, for those who are remaining silent and stagnant. 

What about the voices that are being silenced? For how long will they be thrown in jail, talked over, ignored, murdered? 

This is not acceptable. 

In times like these, the only valid option is action. Each one of us needs to evaluate what steps we are taking and learn what we can do better. If you are one of the people who complain about the damage done in riots, who say “all lives matter” or who attempts to justify the violent actions of police, you need to educate yourself. 

Ignorance is not an option, and if you choose to “stay out of it,” you are accepting the side of the oppressor. If you are able to, attend the protests. Throughout history, peaceful protests have been important vehicles for social change. If you are unable to protest, you still have the responsibility to do something. Donating to Black Lives Matter causes, supporting friends and family members who are protesting and exercising your right to vote are all ways to take action. 

Silence is acceptance. 

And finally, unequivocally,  

Black Lives Matter.

Gracie Rechkemmer is a junior in environmental science and global resource systems.