Structural Violence

Topics: Crips, Gang, Watts, Los Angeles, California Pages: 5 (1957 words) Published: May 9, 2013
Raghma Elmagbari
Margaret Lambeth
Structural Violence in the 1960s
Structural violence is invisible in the fact that people will not realize that it is there, even though it could be happening right around them. “Structural violence refers to systematic ways in which social structures harm or otherwise disadvantage individuals” (winter). Direct violence differs from structural violence because it brings peoples attention toward its brutality in which cases they are more likely to respond. Structural violence is and can be horrific as well as brutal, but it will go unnoticed. Some structural inequities will last for a long time, and over that period of time the violence will start to become normal. They go on with their lives thinking that the way they are being treated is something that they have to get used to and that there is nothing they can do about it. The reason that structural violence occurs is “whenever people are disadvantaged by political, legal, economic or cultural traditions” (winter). Structured inequities can have the same outcome as direct violence; the only difference is that it takes more time for the damage to set in, more likely to happen and repairing the damage will take longer. Structural violence is something that will most likely end up as direct violence and it will be from the ones who are being oppressed and unequally treated. This is exactly what happened in Watts, LA during the 1960’s, when African Americans were being treated unfairly. Even though the civil rights movement changed a lot of things for African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, inequality and racism was still very prominent. With the Civil Rights Act being passed in 1964, a lot of things changed for some states, but some other states tried to evade this new law and California was one of them. California passed its own law, proposition 14, where they tried to “block the fair housing portion of the Civil Rights Act”(staff). This is how structural violence was started, they separated everyone that they needed to and kept a close watch on the ones who were “nobodies”. The “nobodies” do not get cared about and they get pushed aside and forgotten, and that is what happened to the African Americans; the only difference is that they were not forgotten; the police department made it a point to keep a good eye on them just in case they were not where they were supposed to be. The way structural violence was shown was that African Americans were “subject to unwritten rules” (movie) which kept them from working and living in specific parts of Los Angeles. The chief of the Los Angeles police department, William Parker, was the one who laid down those rules against African-Americans. The police was responsible for making sure that everyone was supposed to be in their right neighborhoods at the right time. Watts was one of the few neighborhoods that African-Americans could live in; “unemployment was high, there was no hospital, and the police force was mostly white”. The Riots that occurred in Watts, LA in 1965 were started because of the blatant mistreatment of African Americans. African Americans as well as many Latinos were not able to acquire jobs because of their ethnicities. They were constantly questioned and accused just because they were of a different race. There was nothing that they could do about how they were being treated, especially since the people who were treating them this way were the policeman. They were not free to go where they pleased, if they tried to go anywhere they were not supposed to go then their intentions might be questioned. The African-Americans needed to know their place and the police where there to show them just in case they forgot. ‘There are barriers, invisible barriers, social barriers. And their job is to re-enforce that barrier”. African-Americans believed that their society is free, and their intentions should not be questioned, they should not be watched. They had a new belief ever since...

Cited: Film: Crips and Bloods: Made in America
Staff, FindingDulcinea. "On This Day: Watts Riots Erupt in Los Angeles." FindingDulcinea. 11 Aug. 2011. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <>.
 "Watts Riots." PBS. Ed. Luna Ray Films. PBS, 2002. Web. 01 Nov. 2012. <>.
Winter, D. D., & Leighton, D. C. (2001). Structural violence. In D. J. Christie, R. V. Wagner,& D. D. Winter (Eds.), Peace, conflict, and violence: Peace psychology in the 21st century. New York: Prentice-Hall.
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