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Silence and Race

In the video, a variety of people talk about their own experiences with racism and whiteness, as well as the perspectives those experiences have given them. A significant number of them freely admit their own racist sentiments and the internalized prejudices they have acquired as a direct result of having been raised in a society that gives favor to whites. They exhibit a willingness to face and combat their own prejudice, and they think about the privileges they enjoy owing to the fact that their skin is white. The film places an emphasis on the idea that being white in a culture that upholds white supremacy implies being ignorant of the racial injustices that exist and having the luxury of not having to confront one's own identity and the benefits that they enjoy. In addition to this, it delves into the ways in which people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds integrated to white society, often at the expense of their own identities. The participants emphasize the power that comes with whiteness, both in the form of structural and institutional power, as well as the necessity for white individuals to actively engage against racism and destroy oppressive structures. In general, the film offers a range of personal perspectives on the intricate workings of racial dynamics and white privilege.

Image credits: Kansas Reflector

The use of silence functions as a strategy that reinforces prejudice and keeps the status quo in place. The individuals who participated in the video admitted to their personal racism and the existence of white privilege, but a significant number of them also voiced their hesitation to face or dispute either of those concepts. They discussed how being white in a culture that upholds white supremacy enables them to be ignorant of racial injustices and to take advantage of undeserved benefits and privileges without having to question or address these things. They are able to avoid identifying and confronting their personal racial prejudices as well as the systemic racism that is present in society by maintaining their silence.

There are a few normative processes that may be discovered in regards to race:

The first one being Code of silence. The discussion brought to light a normative dynamic of silence regarding race, in which many white people opt to keep silent and avoid discussing racial issues or fighting racism. This is a normative dynamic of silence. This silence is fueled by discomfort, anxiety, and a desire to defend one's privilege and the status quo in the status quo. This promotes cultural norms that hinder open discourse and limit genuine progress in addressing issues of racial inequity.

Another example is the topic of power dynamics was brought up throughout the discussion, and it was emphasized how white people possess a disproportionate amount of the political, social, and economic power in society. This imbalance in power contributes to the perpetuation of racial inequities and enables the preservation of white supremacy. This is a reflection of the normative dynamic in which power and influence are disproportionately concentrated in the hands of white persons.

Last but not least, The idea of "white privilege" came up over the course of the discussion. This refers to the way in which people of European ancestry are accorded certain benefits and privileges that they have not worked for or earned simply because of their ethnicity. This normative dynamic highlights the cultural norms that offer greater chances and benefits to white individuals in comparison to persons of color.


Angelina E. Castagno from Northern Arizona University authored an essay titled "I Don't Want to Hear That! : Legitimating Whiteness through Silence in Schools." In this piece, the author investigates the topic of how silence in schools may perpetuate and legitimize whiteness. The author contends that the failure to engage in conversations about race and privilege in educational settings sustains the dominance of white culture and fosters racial disparities.

Image credits: Unsplash

Castagno notes the tendency of schools to avoid discussing issues of race and racism, frequently owing to discomfort or fear of controversy. He explains that this avoidance is a problem. This silence fosters an environment in which whiteness continues to be the norm, and it prevents whiteness from being questioned or critically analyzed. By avoiding these vital talks, schools unknowingly promote the existing quo, which contributes to the maintenance of racial hierarchies and denies students from marginalized backgrounds the opportunity to have their experiences acknowledged and validated. Castagno places a strong emphasis on the importance of educational institutions actively promoting racial literacy. This necessitates educating both students and teachers about issues pertaining to race, racism, and privilege. Schools have the ability to oppose the suppression of minority voices and contribute toward the breakdown of systematic injustices if they encourage conversation and create safe spaces for students to address controversial themes like these.

The dominant white culture is allowed to continue existing uncontested and unquestioned as long as there is silence in schools about discussions of race and privilege. This helps to maintain the status quo. By not having conversations on race, schools unintentionally lend their support to the established racial hierarchies and help to preserve the power dynamics that benefit whiteness.

Image credits: JMU

Silence may be a factor that contributes to a lack of knowledge and comprehension concerning racism and privilege among students as well as instructors. This can help to maintain ignorance. It is possible that individuals will not get aware about the nuances of racism and will not gain the essential tools to effectively oppose it if open dialogues and educational programs are not implemented.

There are a few normative processes that may be discovered in regards to race:

The first of these normative dynamics is the avoidance of discomfort and controversy. Another normative dynamic is the avoidance of uncomfortable situations and controversial topics. Because they want to avoid potential disputes or awkward talks, a lot of schools prefer to avoid talking about issues of racism and privilege. This dynamic places a higher priority on aggressively tackling institutional racism and reducing racial inequities than it does on preserving a feeling of peace among its participants.

Secondly, silence as legitimization: the normative dynamic of silence functions to legitimate whiteness. Schools mistakenly legitimize and sustain the current power systems that favor whiteness because they avoid having conversations about race and privilege. Because of the silence that surrounds these concerns, the current quo is allowed to continue, which thwarts any significant movement towards racial fairness.

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