Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Giving Power to the Unheard Voices

Have you heard of Boko Haram?

Perhaps those two words have trickled into your new feed over the past couple of days, but nothing compared to the deluge of "Je Suis Charlie!" which flooded everyone's feed after the attack in Paris.

I knew nothing about it until I saw this article yesterday morning. Nick Chiles, Editor-in Chief of AtlantaBlackStar writes:
"As the world mourns the vicious massacres in Paris, one of Africa’s top religious leaders suggested that the lack of a similar outcry across the globe over the slaughter of up to 2,000 people by Boko Haram last week in northeast Nigeria is further evidence that Black lives don’t matter as much as whites’."
Now, perhaps this statement is true, but I think there is another--equally horrific--interpretation to the non-outcry. I believe it has less to do with the color of the victims skin, and more to do with who they were:
"According to Amnesty International, most of the people killed in Baga and the surrounding villages were women, children and the elderly, who were not able to flee in time."
We live in a world that values celebrity, that places a higher price on the lives of the rich and famous, that hands power to the most vocal. I've written before that it troubles me when people excessively mourn celebrity rather than celebrate lives lived fully. A similar thing is happening here. We (myself included) reacted to an attack on our perception of freedom because that attack was conducted on people who had the power and the voice to use that freedom.

Meanwhile 2000 people screamed in silence.

In the US, the government that is controlled by the loudest voices with the most financial backing is about to make a number of decisions which will destroy the lives of people whose voices are selectively heard: the elderly, women (particularly women of color), the poor, the middle class.

And in Africa 2000 people no longer have voices.

So often I hear the rhetoric of democracy toted as the ideal--but I wonder if anyone truly understands what that means anymore? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of "democracy" includes:
  • The common people, considered as the primary source of political power.
  • Majority rule.
  • The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
How do we give voice to those whose voices should matter the most? The women, the children, the elderly, the "minorities", the people whose lives are often sacrificed in the name of something that is reserved for the elite? When will our world learn from the screams of the silenced.

Will there ever be a time when the lives of everyone will be valued equally?

Today, I weep.

Crying Power

And 2000 voices (plus millions more who have been killed in violent actions over the years of us being at war for nothing) will never again be heard.

With every copy of P.O.W.ER sold I will be contributing to causes that support women and children around the world. I hope my contributions (no matter how large or small) will help give voice to those who cannot be heard. I hope my own voice becomes louder and stronger against the injustices that dominate society. I hope that together we can make change.

Will you join me in making voices heard?