Action speaks louder than words. Is louder better?
But words MATTER.
I might be a bit biased as a former English major and English teacher. I am also a blogger, aspiring author and the daughter of an English Teacher who taught me the power of language from the moment I could use it.
I am an action gal too, don’t get me wrong. But just as Black Lives Matter does not imply that all lives don’t matter. Action speaks LOUDER than words should not imply that words don’t speak at all.
Don’t believe me?
I can’t breathe.
These three words have taken on a whole new meaning in the context of the brutal and inhumane murder of George Floyd and him uttering them continuously as some of his last words. People are chanting them at protests all around the world, painting them on buildings and placards and creating artwork with this phrase. I know that for so many of us, we will never hear those three little words strung together again and not think about the death of George Floyd and the uprising & racial pandemic of 2020.
These are not the only three words that matter in this uprising.
“The pen is mightier than the sword,” was written by the English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. We’ve known for centuries how powerful words are, now is not the time to forget it.
Protesting, rioting, and looting are huge & grandiose ACTION but at every single protest, what are people carrying? Handmade signs with words.
Words that cut through your heart.
Words that make you think.
Words that make you cry.
Words that make you laugh.
“Say her name”
“Daddy changed the world”
“If you’re tired of hearing about racism imagine how tired people are experiencing it”
“White Silence is violence”
“Police Brutality is small dick energy”
…are just a few that have made me stop my scroll, figuratively and literally.
The protest itself is ACTION but imagine the protests without the signs. I truly believe they wouldn’t be half as effective. Words matter.
Words don’t just matter when we are fighting against racism. It has been made very clear with all of the stories being shared on social media, that words are a huge part of black people experiencing racism.
Racism is NOT confined to violent acts of police brutality. There are so many layers and nuances of this disease that has spread systemically for over 400 years and words can hurt just as much as actions. Rude comments. Microaggressions. Ignorant questions. Blatant insults and racial slurs.
Words- both spoken and written, in countless books, articles, social media posts, Youtube videos, IG lives, interviews, documentaries and songs have given me a whole new understanding of what it means to be black and although I will never be able to truly understand- the stories matter. I also understand white privilege for the first time, as an educated thirty year old white woman, this is the first time I can see white privilege for what it truly means, because of the words of others who took the time to explain it. Sure, I’ve been experiencing it my whole life. Actions. But I didn’t internalize the meaning until it was put into WORDS. The words matter.
Don’t get me wrong. Words can also be misused. Words can be hollow. They can be empty and meaningless but I truly believe everything can be. Sex can be a beautiful, passionate intimate experience or it can be empty and meaningless- it’s all about how we use it. Same with fitness and movement (which you also mat know I’m super passionate about 😉 ) It is frustrating when people say one thing and do the other but I don’t think it’s fair to discredit words for how much they truly do matter both currently in the racial pandemic and beyond.
And for me, my particular favorite use of words is to express emotion and experiences (no matter how difficult) and to evoke hope.
Hope that despite all the upheaval, differences and isolation we are experiencing at the moment…we are also experiencing one of the most dramatic moments of global solidarity with both the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial pandemic. What you look for, you will find. I want to look for hope and continue to encourage you to do the same.
So yes, action speaks louder than words.
Is louder better?
The words you utter to others.
The words you utter within your own mind and heart.
The words you choose to consume and the words you choose to stand up against.
The mantras you chant and the letters you write.
The phone calls you make and the intimate conversations you have.
Words are a concrete display of intangible change brewing within you.
Words can take us on a trip to a far off distant land or soothe our tired souls when strung to a melody.
Words can withstand natural disasters, centuries of history and connect us to what’s important.
Words can break a man’s heart or encourage him to keep fighting.
Words are a portal to the past, present and future.
Words are easily taken for granted, much like some of the most simple pleasures in life.
Words are my favorite weapon, my strongest ally and my greatest teacher.
Words are my therapy and my channel to my most authentic self.
So, yes, please take action but don’t forget your words matter.
SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, write them down, get them out.
Actions may speak louder but louder isn’t always better.
Words matter. Let’s use ours together.