Power and Humiliation
While global attention has focused recently on the episodes of mass violence involving the clash of militant forces, another kind of violence has been pervasive throughout the United States. This sort of violence lacks the impact of physical brutal force but can be devastating to large segments of the population. Such violence arises from the power of social-political institutions to contort the thoughts of marginalized people, diminish their self-esteem, and instill in them a sense of inferiority, all for disciplinary control. The force of such power is woven into the normal operations and routine practices of many institutions today. Four kinds of instruments of systemic humiliation are presented: (1) state directives that cause hardships to marginalized people, (2) social categories of rank-ordering that promote notions of inferiority, (3) narratives of erasure that remove or diminish the existence of certain people from notions of national identity, and (4) stigmatizing cultural symbols that are created to convey messages of denigration.
- Baldwin, J. 1952. Go Tell It on the Mountain. New York: Dell Publishing.Google Scholar
- Coates, Ta-Nehisis. 2015. Between the World and Me. New York: Spiegal & Grua.Google Scholar
- Dyson, M.E. 2017. Tears We Cannot Stop. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- King, M.L. 1986. Letter from a Birmingham Jail. In The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., ed. M. James, 289–302. Washington, DC: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
- Steiner, H., and P. Alston. 2000. International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics and Morals. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- West, C. 2014. Black Prophetic Fire. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar