We expend our words extravagantly about the wisdom of our poets, our beloved memoirists, but it sometimes seems as though we pick and choose our stories.
I heard yesterday about Maya’s “abusive childhood” and the years she spent in silence. But I heard little to indicate we as a nation are willing to examine the take-away of the very things that defined Maya and her titular caged bird.
Because the issue of caged birds is a thorny problem.
Angelou went mute for years as a child because she felt responsible for the death of her abuser.
She was not. He was. He was responsible for violating her and the law and then in turn the law was responsible for a completely inadequate response.
We tout the years of silence instead of decrying a lost childhood and a deeply riven justice system.
Not much has changed. I am convinced that it might have been more effective for me to choose years of deliberate silence over the quiet futility of decrying our inattention to sexual assault survivors.
Except for this: my daughters deserve to watch me fight for them. They deserve to let me carry the futility and the anger just a little.
When so many of us refuse to carry it at all.