To highlight our societal ills and to engender change, many groups have co-opted speakouts/vigils as modes of publicizing and politicizing communities. Yesterday's speakout on the Green for domestic violence awareness week is a case in point. But instead of speaking out, in particular to a reporter of the school's daily newspaper, many of last night's participants choose instead to remain anonymous, shrouded in the darkness of the night. They asked the reporter not to print their names along with their stories.
By hiding their identities, by refusing to truly speak out, these participants defeated the purpose of the event. Besides the fact that the event was public and anyone could have walked by and heard their stories, the speakers at the event destroyed their own credibility and legitimized societal views that domestic violence is a personal issue that should be kept private.
These events are empowering: they allow for the oppressed, the victimized or the wronged to have a voice and to confront their oppressors, assaulters or perpetrators. But the power of speakouts/vigils lies in their very vulnerability. Only by exposing ourselves and our lives do we gain recognition. Only by standing behind our stories with our names do we gain others' trust and faith in what we say.