Students make moral decisions everyday. Usually these decisions revolve around specific actions they take like helping a friend, cheating on a test or obeying curfew. But students also make moral decisions by being silent after witnessing the immoral behavior of others. In these situations, the impulse for self-protection overrides moral obligations. Learning how to choose whether or not to be silent in the midst of injustice is an important part of moral development.
I am teaching about Segregation, and I want to focus on the theme of self-expression by looking at Jackie Robinson and his career as the first African American baseball player in modern Major League Baseball. In his first two years on the Brooklyn Dodgers, Robinson had to stay quiet in the face of racial injustice and harassment in order to protect himself. I would use the Audre Lorde conversation on self-expression by focusing on the counterclaim, that sometimes in such a complex world silence is necessary for self-protection.
Students have very strong opinions about when to talk and when to remain silent. Sometimes, students speak out of nervousness. Other times, students speak because they have something they have to say to the world. Then there are other students who are shy and never want to talk, or who remain silent because they are afraid to look foolish.