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On silence, voice, & privilege 

by Kayce Stevens Hughlett

I wake up with words stirring in my head. The ones tossed toward me like rotten tomatoes at a vaudeville performer. Naïve. Unaware. White privileged. I am all of these things. Perhaps she is too. She, the one who spews her opinions about my writing, my integrity, my life. She, the person I’ve never met and likely never will. I’m sorry she can’t see my heart or feel my message. After much internal wrestling, I choose to wish her well and hope that no one tries to silence her as she has attempted to silence me. And then I take it back. I’m human, after all. The judgments hurt and the small parts inside me wish her silenced. I want her to pay for the restless nights she’s caused me, for the insecurity she’s pushed my way. But I’m trying to grow in compassion, so I send love and light her way and try to carry on with my day.


“Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

For every story said or written, there are dozens left unsaid and off the page. There are patterns that show up and repeat themselves. Old hurts we carry in our bones. Privileges we are either born into or out of. Profound phrases that catch fire and paltry patterns that freeze us in our tracks like wintery ice.

When I travel and write I see the faces of color, beauty, and hurt in my life. The people I’ve trusted who’ve betrayed me and I them. The places I’ve been, friends I’ve made, and family I’ve raised. I bow down with gratitude for each and every precious moment. Elusive Great Aunt Trudy, building a house stone by stone in the Mojave Desert. I see her ostracized for life choices unbecoming of her era in time. I remember the matriarch in Egypt, dark-skinned, weathered hands, open face and heart. Sovereign in her element, at peace and hospitable. When I met her, she offered me a blessing and I her. Together. Communicating heart to heart and celebrating our similarities as women, mothers, grateful beings. My privilege in that moment came from holding the hand that beautiful woman offered me.

There are days I long to be the woman in the Sinai, without cell phones or mirrors or social media. To be sovereign in a small kingdom and dance under the stars because it is the joyous thing to do. To live in the place where music fills my soul like stardust, where race and status are transcended. Crossing cultures and boundaries. Being bridge makers not wall builders.

I’ve put my voice into the world yet again and now there are naysayers who want to thrash it back into silence, to belittle us magic makers and peacekeepers. Even in the roar of criticism, I am called to make magic, to keep peace, to raise my voice into the shouting sky.

When I was seven years old, I ran across the playground holding hands with my friend, Linda. Yin. Yang. Black. White. Two sides of a little girl coin. One coin. Not a black one or a white one. One. Hands linked, skipping together. We were unaware, oblivious in our naivete that we had anything to fear, because in our hearts we felt no difference. No one had yet to try and wrongfully convey, “This is wrong. Fear this. Let go of that hand. You are different.”

Today I think of Linda and of the woman who called me unaware. If being aware means I have to let go of those hands—Trudy, Linda, the Sinai goddess, and all the others I’ve embraced along the way—then I don’t want any part of it. Ignorance is bliss. Those hands have warmed my heart and shaped my soul.

Those hands haven’t shared caustic critiques from behind computer screens. Those hands are warm and worn like the crevasses of my heart. Broken open so the world may fall in. The world, that yes, I am privileged enough to see and share, but never to take for granted. Perhaps it is naïve to believe that my white presence doesn’t impose power … But/and my hope and goal is to seek out the places we connect rather than harmful ways to distance ourselves. It’s easy to see the differences when we travel, but by stepping into new cultures with open hearts we begin to experience boundaries falling away and come to understand that separation lives in our minds. Minds that can be opened and changed. We learn new ways by practicing one word or step at a time. We open. We stumble. We fail. We fall. We get back up and try again. That is why I write, travel, meditate, pray. That is the energy that birthed SoulStroller: experiencing the weight, whispers, & wings of the world. And that is why I refuse to be silenced.


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SoulStroller: experiencing the weight, whispers, & wings of the worlds  has arrived! Available @ Bookstores, Amazon, and your favorite audio version

“Hughlett finds her voice in the most unexpected places—amidst the grief of life’s challenges, in letting go, in strengthening through presence.” Pixie Lighthorse,  Prayers of Honoring Grief 

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