Understanding the 'Violence Matrix'


Prison Culture blogger Mariame Kaba looks at the effects of the prison industrial complex on women in a recent post. Referencing Dr. Beth Richie's book Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation, Kaba discusses the laws to combat crimes against women and girls and the complex way violence plays out in the lives of black women.

Today, I want to focus on one key aspect of the thesis that Beth advances in the book. She contends that the "success" of the anti-violence against women and girls’ movement in passing legislation and gaining public legitimacy was in large part due to the increasingly conservative political climate that was emerging in a parallel way. That conservative political climate emphasized a "law and order" and "tough-on-crime" approach to addressing social problems.

Beth pointed out in her talk that many activists within the anti-violence movement (particularly women of color and queer people) spoke out about the fact that increasing criminalization would adversely affect certain populations. Their voices, however, did not win the day …

One of the invaluable contributions of Beth’s work in Arrested Justice is that she theorizes a "Violence Matrix." The "Violence Matrix" offers a black feminist analysis of male and state violence. I think that this will be very useful to those of us who want to first understand and then eradicate violence against black women and girls. The matrix can help all of us to make better sense of how violence can play out in black women's lives in multiple contexts.


Read Mariame Kaba's entire piece at Prison Culture.

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