On Violence: a response to the responses to Richmond, VA., 1/20/20
It isn’t just physical, although Americans often seem only to recognize violence in that form. Poverty and hunger are violent. The forced or coerced suppression of sexual identities is violent, as is the suppression of and lack of reward/recognition of the arts and artists. Words can also be violent.
Racism: seriously violent in all of its forms.
Ethnic hatred (anti Semitism, anti Muslim, anti Indigenous, anti Latino/Pakistani/Palestinian/name your group, is violence.
Fear of/animosity towards disabled people or those with mental health problems isn’t just messed up, it’s violence.
The perpetuation of racist, homophobic, and sexist stereotypes and tropes via all forms of media, texts, films, and art equals violence.
These forms of violence aren’t passive or unimportant. They have moral, ethical, and social implications and real world, practical effects. They result in redlining, blackballing, disenfranchisement, inequality in pay/opportunities/expectations, and a lack of support. They create and uphold poverty, depression, and other forms of repression and oppression.
They shorten the lifespans and lower the quality of life of those living with these forms of violence, and often result in serious physical harm, both directly and in insidious ways over time.
Violence isn’t just the cudgels, knives, and bombs. It’s the will to harm, via a multiplicity of actions and inactions that are institutionalized in every section of society. It’s also the denial of harm towards others and all of the emotional and psychological damage that denying reality causes to the victims of such social and spiritual violence.
Violence is a pervasive yet often denied part of our cultures and society, and so long as we mislabel non-physical assaults as “peaceful” we will continue to have a society of injustice, hatred, and fear.