Freya Powell

A War On Silence
Vinyl text installation and postcards

On April 4th 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed a crowd at the Riverside Church in NYC. The opening of his speech recalled a statement about Vietnam made by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned, the group who had organized the event. A line of their statement read: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." Dr. King likened this line to the United States’ relationship to Vietnam at the time. A silence by the people of the United States was a betrayal to the people of Vietnam. He called for this silence to be broken. This was the first time Dr. King publicly came out against the war. Today we find ourselves in a similar place. Our country is fighting a similar war, a war with no foreseeable end.

This piece reminds all that we are in similar times- times of silence leading to betrayal. While my focus is regarding the U.S.-led wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, this statement rings true for many conflicts and struggles. Silence is the manifestation of our complicity of oppression of varying forms: imperialism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, xenophobia, classism, colonialism, nativism, cisgenderism etc…

I declare a war on silence.