Violence Unnoticed

Angela Davis points out that violence in language doesn’t necessarily imply the use of expletives or a confrontational tone. There is an inherent violence in the language used by Davis’ interviewer, for example. The way in which he asks his questions is one meant to provoke; his language is incredibly accusatory. By asking “Do you get there by confrontation, violence?” instead of “How do you get there?”, he’s accusing Davis and the Party of being violent by nature. This gives Davis very narrow room to respond, forcing her to disagree with him outright in order to give an accurate answer. His language is violent because he leaves no room for anything other than a dispute at the start of her response.

This is actually a very common method of discreditation, one used frequently against the Black Panther Party. Right now if one were to Google the Party, the first thing they’d see in the news is Beyonce’s recent Super Bowl appearance. In response to her performance, reporters have begun to question whether she is affiliated to the Party. In their speculations, however, a great majority of journalists imply her association with the Party is a cause for concern. This rhetoric gives the reader, who may or may not have any prior knowledge of the Party, the impression that the Black Panther Party is not a positive group. The media doesn’t need to use explicit language; the words they use against Beyonce, against the Party, are violent enough . They can claim a lack of bias by avoiding being completely forthcoming about their feelings in all-out terms. Without providing any evidence that the Party has done anything harmful, these journalists have convinced their readers that having someone associated with the Party perform in front of a large audience is a negative thing.

Violent language doesn’t always have to make use of traditionally violent terms. In the condemnation an individual or group before they’ve even had a chance to respond, a wholly unnecessary conflict can be created and people’s motives can be incorrectly interpreted. 

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One thought on “Violence Unnoticed

  1. I agree that the interviewer did word his questions in order to provoke Angela Davis. As I was listening, I did hear somewhat of an accusatory tone which may have sounded like he was not a supporter of the Black Panther Party. I also liked how you related the BPP to Beyonce’s Super Bowl Performance. There was a lot of controversy if she was affiliated with the Black Panthers.

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