Switching Things up with Silence


Since President Donald Trump has taken office, our country has seen nation wide protests. Silence for a Change hopes to continue the national conversation in a unique way at the Indiana State House on Feb. 24.

This Friday, Feb. 24 will host Silence for a Change at the Indiana State House. Silence for a Change is different than the majority of protests and marches around Indianapolis. Beyond focusing on a quiet approach, this event encourages its attendees to focus on what they love, not what they’re afraid of happening.

Maggie Clayton is studying law at IUPUI and is planning to attend Silence for a Change.

“I was interested in the event because a former/current adjunct professor at IUPUI is putting it together,” Clayton said. “It also struck me as something totally different than other protests, marches or community activism events.”

Screen shotted due to embedding issues with permission. 

Screen shotted due to embedding issues with permission. 

The adjunct professor hosting this event is Janice Bankert-Countryman who was inspired by IUPUI’s counter protest to the Westboro Baptist Church, where students and faculty were encouraged to ignore the protesters and have a dance party instead.

“The event electrified me, and it helped give me the courage to go to Standing Rock and serve in the Sacred Stone Camp kitchen for a week in November,” she said. “That experience, in turn, invited me to view my life differently, to really embrace my love for serving others.”

The idea for Silence for a Change came after Bankert-Countryman noticed the amount of anger and resentment in the media. She decided it would be nice to have an event that focuses on what citizens want and hope for. It’s meant to be a signal of moving forward through hate.

“This march is silent because silence is so profoundly different from what most of us are engaging in. Silence is powerful in and of itself, and by engaging in silence collectively, we are asking ourselves and others to reflect, to really think and feel,” she said. “Too much of our lives is lived in reaction. This is a moment when we can engage with one another and our political lives from a space of intentionality.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring signs that express their “hopes and dreams.” Janice also reminds that this is not a protest.

“What is different about this march is its silence and also its focus on what we want.  We are not protesting,” she said. “We are literally moving and declaring to all who see us those things that we want.”

Photo by Josie Salyer

Photo by Josie Salyer

Our country has had many controversial bills proposed in the past few months like H.R. 586 or Indiana’s S.B. 285. There have been many calls to action by local activists to call or write to various senators and congressmen to try to fight these. Bankert-Countryman supports these efforts, but also challenges us to consider other ways we can help our community.

“Stopping a bill is great. But, now what? What solutions can we offer? What needs can be met?  This march is an opportunity for marchers and observers to consider possibilities rather than problems,” Bankert-Countryman said.

Silence for a Change will be on Friday, Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the Statehouse.