Detail from a 10-sculpture work called “Our Silences,” by José Rivelino Moreno Valle.
“What’s important is that people can reflect about what happens when an individual decides not to say how he feels, because he can be ridiculed, or attacked, or he can be excluded,” Rivelino said following the ceremony. “This is an important topic of discussion for a public place.”
Sandra Dibble, writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, summarizes the message of the work: “the monumental public art work is intended to deliver a message about freedom of expression. Each figure has a metal plate covering its mouth, an allusion to censorship, and the artist hopes they will prompt reflection about the importance of speaking out.”
At a time when the president of the United States calls out athletes for their peaceful protests rejecting racism, oppression, and violence against blacks, (while NOT unequivocally condemning white supremacists’ violent and intimidating protests) not only do we need to find ways to get to civil discourse about differences of opinion, we also know we all believe in the constitutional right to say what we believe, no matter what occupation we have or the platform we use to do it. Don’t let his authoritarian proclivities lead us to censorship. Don’t be silenced.
And when the conversation gets directed to dividing people over the form of protest, it’s an intentional deflection away from the reason for protest, which has no debatable merit. So, instead of confronting that head on, let’s talk about the flag, the military, the patriotism…not the brutality, the abuse, the murder, the racism. Don’t be silenced.