Our Language and Culture of Violence
Junious Ricardo Stanton
The United States of America is the most violent nation on this planet, bar none. Every week thousands of US citizens assault, beat, kill, verbally abuse and taunt their follow citizens, we cheer for our sports teams to pound their opponents into the ground and we consume countless hours playing violent video games, watching television, motion pictures and literature saturated with bloodshed, sadistic language and imagery.
The US is a gun culture; firearms are easily available, they are viewed as a civil and personal right and are held sacrosanct by the vast majority of Americans. They rationalize this by saying they are sportsmen, claiming they use their guns are for hunting and for protection. Who goes hunting with a large clip assault weapon? How is that sportsmanship? Then when a Columbine Colorado, a Charleston South Carolina, an El Paso Texas and a Dayton Ohio occur we ask, how can this be, why is this happening?
The answer and reason are, America was birthed in violence. Almost immediately after Europeans made contact with the indigenous inhabitants of this hemisphere hostilities initiated almost always by the whites broke out and rapidly devolved into a deliberate and wholesale campaign of subjugation and genocide that continues to this very day. No matter which nationality whether French, Dutch, Spanish or English, the Europeans engaged in open violence towards the native population. They said this was their right, part of their “covenant with God” to capture these lands for their kings, Popes, the trading companies; this is a telling indictment against Western culture. The carnage and imperialism continues but today conquest is not for “God”, it is to spread democracy, capitalism, national security and secure “markets”.
We pretend violence is not deeply ingrained in this culture, we are total in denial that it is part of a collective ethos which is systematically and institutionally promoted and reinforced, because to admit this means, we have to discard the false narrative we’ve constructed about ourselves as the “good guys” the exceptional and indispensable nation.
When we are honest, we are forced to admit this is a violent, war loving nation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgAVpPNusTs Our very language exposes this truth; stop and think about all the sayings and phrases we use every single day in so many situations, at work, about sports, dealing with others or just describing what we do that promote violence. To bring this point home here are just a few of them: when push comes to shove, tear it up, rip off, stabbed me in the back, go f___ yourself, bloodbath, Hulk out, battle royal , Chris Brown you, more bang for your buck, fighting words, he or she broke my heart, punch in the gut, shooting holes in an argument, hit the jackpot, hit the road, pound it out, kick the sh___ out of someone, get away with murder, going in with guns blazing, knocked up, shoot yourself in the foot, going ballistic, canned, sudden death, thrash, whip, roll with the punches, weaponized, throw someone under the bus, he or she bombed, stomp it out, snuffed out, take no prisoners, get in someone’s face or space, crush, beat down, fight for, battle , kick ass, slap you into next week, slap yo’ momma, take our best shot, shoot for the moon, war on drugs, war on crime, slain in the spirit, conquer your fears, killing me softly, you’re killing me, so and so blew up, Bogart, bum rush, brow-beat etc. I could go on but you get my drift.
Violence in America is personal and collective. African-Americans have been the victims of both overt and covert violence ever since we were forced here. In fact this summer (2019) marks a hundred years since the infamous “Red Summer” when whites went berserk and initiated wholesale violence and terrorism against Blacks not only in the South but in cities all across the county. Red Summer was a deliberate campaign to terrorize and intimidate Blacks to keep us “in our place” following WWI, the war the warmongers and propagandists said was fought to: make the world safe for democracy because it was the war to end all wars!
When you study American history you discover up until the 1960’s the phrase “race riot” meant mobs of white folks collectively unleashing unrestrained violence on Black people. Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921 is but one example. We have lived with this psychopathy for four hundred years in this country.
Internally our community is also plagued with externally induced but self-inflicted violence be it verbal, psychological and/or physical. This internal violence is the result of the massively racist anti-African programming we have been subjected to and internalized to the point we detest ourselves and those who look like us. This self hatred and self negation makes it easy for so many of our people to engage in maladaptive behaviors such as selling lethal drugs to children, becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, knowingly allowing ourselves to be used to desecrate, degrade and defile our people in our music and visual images in an attempt to gain fame and fortune in what the late psychologist Dr Amos N. Wilson called “service to white supremacy”.
We know the problem, what’s the solution? Its simple, love; love is the answer. Love yourself and love others in the same manner and degree you love yourself. This is the first step in solving the violence problem. Thousands of years ago the Buddha said, “In this world hatred ceases not with hatred, but only by love, this is the eternal rule.” This saying has been repeated by many Avatars, mystics, poets and philosophers. It is a universal truth. The esoteric core of most organized religions contains this message, but the ruling elites suppress it because our anger, hatred, division and self-negation allow them to manipulate us so they remain in power.
As Marvin Gaye wrote and sang in his song Wholly Holy “We can rock the world’s foundation everybody, together, and wholly holy we’ll holler love, love, love across the nation, wholly holy together and holy we proclaim love our salvation.” Love is the answer, we can do this.
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