Moment of Silence (poem)

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"Moment of Silence" is a poem by Emmanuel Ortiz published on September 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 attacks. The poem discussed the history of colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, the War on Terror, environmental racism, and structural violence as well as the attacks.

The poem begins:

"Before I start this poem, I'd like to ask you to join me
In a moment of silence
In honour of those who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last September 11th.

But it goes on to critique that notion of a moment of silence, perhaps best summed up by the lines: "From somewhere within the pillars of power, you open your mouth to invoke a moment of our silence and we are all left speechless" and "This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written." The majority of the poem serves as a list of historical crimes by the West against indigenous peoples or the Third World and how the structures which perpetuate those crimes slip through the cracks whenever people take a "moment of silence". Essentially, Ortiz believes a moment of silence "cut[s] in line" by failing to acknowledge previous and ongoing forms of structural violence.

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