Violence as a Means of Everyday Survival

AuthorDurrell Malik Washington
Published date01 May 2022
Date01 May 2022
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/10439862221096729
https://doi.org/10.1177/10439862221096729
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2022, Vol. 38(2) 204 –206
© The Author(s) 2022
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DOI: 10.1177/10439862221096729
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Essay
Violence as a Means of
Everyday Survival
Durrell Malik Washington Sr.
University of Chicago
This piece is not in any way, shape, or form written to romanticize acts of violence. It
is also not meant to take away from those who have been victimized by violence. It is,
however, to offer a different perspective. It is to push the conversation and ask those
who engage with it to reflect on how violence has shown up in our lives and consider
causes of violence we may not often think about. Violence in and of itself is a whole
ecological system that directly and indirectly shows up in all of our lives. If you really
think about it, violence is as normal as most of our daily norms and routines, especially
for those who live in the United States. That’s not to say that violence does not show
up in other countries the way it does here. However, the views that I share are strictly
from my encounters with violence as an actor, victim, and today as a researcher and
Ph.D. student who studies how violence can be mitigated and how leaning on incar-
ceration as a response to violence can be reduced. Violence is not just interpersonal. It
is political, economic, social, and as I will argue throughout this paper for many, it is
also a Means of Everyday Survival.
Acceptable Acts of Violence
Acts of violence in the name of war by many are deemed as a justifiable means. Our
United States military personnel are trained to commit acts of aggression and carry
them out at the drop of a dime. All in the name of protecting our freedoms. We have
fought wars in this country over natural resources, which then turn into economic gain
and over the right to occupy territories in the name of allyship, contributing to our
global and political power. We also have militarized police forces who are trained to
be just as violent if need be. These people who are sworn to serve and protect us, if at
any time choose to go rouge and unjustly murder a black man for the entire world to
see, rarely if at all do they have to worry about consequences. Though police are
trained to follow the law, many of these laws are broad. This leaves the interpretation
of these laws at times to their discretion.
In 2009 I was a sophomore football player at Hudson Valley Community College in
Troy, NY. One day in practice, I twisted my knee up pretty bad and had to have season
ending surgery. On a visit back home, I remember walking to the store about a month
1096729CCJXXX10.1177/10439862221096729Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeMalik Washington Sr.
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