Coming Full Circle

Violence and care, when thought about in general terms, seem to be opposing actions. My first thought regarding violence is causing intentional harm, regarding care the first thing to come to mind is providing intentional warmth. There are infinite variations of how a person can demonstrate either care or violence, and these demonstrations can be maximal or minimal. When thinking about care, I don’t immediately attribute it to in response of violence. Care, in and of itself, does not necessarily need to be prompted since random displays of affection and acts of kindness do exist, no matter how scarce they may sometimes seem. However, considering these two concepts together, it is clear how care could be considered the remedy to violence, as asserted by Saidiya Hartman, “Care is the antidote to violence”. If a person is harmed whether it be physically or emotionally, care in the form of medical attention or emotional support can be administered in response to the violence inflicted. This train of thought is quite straightforward to follow and seemingly difficult to dispute, which is why the counter notion of, “violence can exist as care” (Davina Ward) felt very confusing at first glance. This statement almost seems to be a paradox, and begs the question of how two acts that appear to be opposites of each other can also exist as each other at the same time. Through the entirety of Ward’s essay she thoroughly explains and supports her stance in such a way that allows the reader to understand and compels me to agree with her. In comparing Hartman and Ward’s positions, it is possible to see how both work in their respective contexts and I believe that care can both be the antidote to violence and it can exist as violence. Thinking about how these two viewpoints can both exist and be true at the same time has highlighted what I have learned this semester: While we are learning and absorbing content, even out of a classroom setting, it is important to consider different perspectives and to think deeply about how concepts are connected and the ways in which they can be related to each other to form meaning. 

        Contemplating Ward and Hartman’s statements led me to the conclusion which I stated earlier; that they aren’t necessarily opposite arguments but can be formed into a both/ and statement. In turn, this realization made me think about everything we’ve discussed and been focusing on for the duration of this course. We have been following themes, questions, concepts, etc. throughout everything we’ve worked on. The class notes from the very first day state, “In a both/and that will follow us all semester, . . .” (McCoy, 1/25/2023). Both/ and has indeed followed us all semester. While reading Unfathomable City we searched for evidence of both/ ands of the city of New Orleans that the authors, Rebecca Snedeker and Rebecca Solnit, detail. In one description of New Orleans it is both, “. . . a city that holds tremendous violence and what might be considered the opposite of violence: collective, confident, urban rejoicing in public, over and over again, in parades and music and greetings from strangers on the street” (Snedeker & Solnit, p. 4). It can be difficult to grasp how two very different illustrations are describing the same place but nothing has just one feature. Violence is present, as it is almost everywhere, but so is community, unity, and celebration. There is violence but there is also care. There is so much to consider and so many different aspects attached to anything that exists. Regarding what constitutes care or violence, Ward says, “it is just a matter of perspective”, this can be applied to most situations in life. Everyone has a different place that they are coming from and has had unique experiences that influence how and why they think the way they do. This course and the central issues we’ve addressed have taught me to try and think through my thoughts and why they are happening, what exactly they are leading me to or what I need to be considering in more depth. I’ve learned how different concepts are able to be related in a multitude of contexts. Hartman said, “Care is the antidote to violence”, at a book event. However, the essay “Free Us All” is able to use Hartman’s assertion and apply it to prison reform, “Her words offer a potentially powerful feminist frame for abolition. Effective defense campaigns provide thousands of people with opportunities to demonstrate care for criminalized individuals through various tactics” (Kaba, 2017). Here, it seems Kaba is saying that care in the form of effective defense campaigns is the antidote to the violence felt by criminalized individuals. It is also possible to consider this scenario through Ward’s lens, the government is imprisoning individuals they deem to be guilty, by doing this they think they are providing care to their law abiding citizens while performing violence on the people they are imprisoning, therefore, violence is existing as care and it depends on perspective. 

I found it fitting that we started and are ending the course focusing on the same idea, that something can both be this and be that. This makes the semester spent engaging in these concepts feel like it’s come full circle, completed a circulation. The course has been a circulation, in multiple contexts, but most of all our class has been circulating around our course concepts and content, moving back and forth and sharing ideas and interpretations between each other. We’ve returned and connected to previous concepts and we’ve discovered new ones along the way, it has been a journey. In a way, this course itself and the actual participation of it, could be related to its namesake, Hurricane Stories. While, obviously, this class has focused on stories about hurricanes, moving through the class has been like a hurricane story in and of itself. I don’t mean to state this in a way that diminishes the actual experiences of and pain felt by real hurricane survivors by comparing the enduring of a hurricane to taking a class, but the structure and way we have moved though the course has reminded me of the storms we talked about. We started slow, picking up speed as we collected course concepts. We pushed through book after book, or material. We circulated connections and observations in our group work, building off of each other’s momentum and getting stronger. We’ve finally, or almost, reached the demise, when it’s over and the impacts never leave us. I’ve learned to think about things in a way that I never really did before, “It is not just to do with the subject matter of what you are thinking about or learning, but how you think about it and how you learn” (Williams et al., p.2). Being reflective has been a major part of the course and a part of our thinking processes throughout. Reading, learning, and thinking experiences are things we remember and, “Like performance, memory operates as both quotation and invention, an improvisation on borrowed themes, with claims on the future as well as the past (Roach, p. 33). No one’s memory is a concrete clear image of exactly what happened. I may not remember every exact detail of every class but the way my thinking has changed as a result of everything we did has strengthened my ability to be reflective, not only academically but also as a person. 

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