Folks talk about campus violence like it’s perpetuated by a few bad apples, tgise disenfranchised men and boys who play too many violent video games. What the mainstream doesn’t talk about is campus violence like violence against women or police brutality by campus police. Why? Because these forms of violence are institutionalized, and unfairly biased against people because they are women and people of color.
Professor Angela Davis spoke on my campus yesterday about the Prison Industrial Complex and prison abolition, and at a question and answer with students she talked about yesterday’s shooting. I’ll share a bit here, typed from what I took on my digital recorder.
Iâ€™ve always been interested in what I call circuits of violence, the ways in which certain modes of violence feed into and reproduce other modes of violence. We like to think of domestic violence and intimate violence separately from military violence, or separately from state violence. I think itâ€™s really important to think of these forms of violence together and ask how they mutually reinforce each other and how the individual agent of violence, situated in a larger context where violence is so easily used by the state, has a certain level of comfort, a certain level of feeling that this is the way things are supposed to be done.
It is a tragedy anytime anyone is murdered. I don’t know what experiences fueled Cho Seung-Hui yesterday at Virgina Tech, but he was an immigrant and a person of color living in a country where those communities are routinely victims of institutionalized violence. That doesn’t justify killing, but I don’t think we can understand one form of violence without looking at the greater culture and institutions that normalize and perpetuate it.