The readings and motion pictures that we have analyzed in class have helped me better understand what violence is, and what purpose it serves. Because of this, I have to disagree with Saidiya Hartman’s quote “Care is the antidote to violence.” Even the dictionary definition of violence, states that it is a strength of emotion or an unpleasant and natural destruction. Although violence itself is wasteful, this does not take away from the fact that the people who carry out these violent acts, act out of emotion and care enough to cause some type of destruction to make their point. When thinking of a word to replace care in Saidiya Hartman’s quote “Care is the antidote to violence”, I seem to draw a blank. The media from this class has shown me that even with love, hope, and all those amazing attributions to society, our world seems as though it will never be able to escape violence; unless of course the cause of the violence itself is completely removed. With all of the brutality and prejudices in this world, it seems as though the only way to stop all of the madness would be to remove the most violent thing on the planet, the human race.
The idea that caring could be the remedy for violence does not align with the violent examples we have seen in class. Over the course of the semester, we have looked through all different types of storms and the effect that these storms had on their victims; We got to scrutinize both real and fictional accounts of people living through these storms. In both cases, there is never a time where I believe caring could have resolved the cruelty that these people had to endure. There was never a storm where there was ever nobody that cared about what was going on, there was just never anybody with supernumerary money and power that cared enough to make a difference. Therefore, I believe that Saidiya Hartman’s quote could only reign true if the care comes from those in a position of power, so is this statement true at all then? If it only matters if certain people care then can we say that care is an antidote? In this case, I think it would be better to say the Government putting forth the money and empathy needed to help people is the antidote to violence. When looking at this compared to the storms, it seems as though this is also an unworkable antidote for violence. The government, in most of the situations, did not show enough urgency or preparedness which led to the loss of lives and expensive destruction.
During the semester we watched Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, a documentary that shows the audience the tragedies that occurred before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. In all stages of the storm, they show the passion and anger that these victims were feeling and they did care about the well-being of their city and its people. The reason that all of this destruction was able to happen is that the government only cared about its agenda and disregarded the safety of the people of New Orleans, or most specifically, the minorities of New Orleans. The government showed urgency in getting the wealthier side of New Orleans evacuated and safe. Although everyone deserves to get help evacuating, if they did not have enough people to help evacuate everyone, why would they focus their attention on the people who have means of traveling and have the transportation? Rather than the people who will have to risk everything just to evacuate their homes, and who will have a much harder time being able to travel safely. Even good Samaritans who had access to transportation were helping those who could not leave and were stuck, the film showed people with motor boats picking up people who were stranded with no resources. The people cared about each other and their city but the government showed them that they were not a top priority. The government’s careless attitude towards the residents of the lower ninth ward was not only present before and during the storm but also after. It was even mentioned in the documentary that they were not checking houses for survivors or victims, they were marking houses saying they had no bodies when they did have someone who passed away in them. So not only did these survivors have to live through that storm but some had to come back to their homes to find that the government did not do its job and find someone they know deceased in their “cleared” house.
When looking at these actions compared to Saidiya Hartman’s quote “Care is the antidote to violence”, you cannot help but wonder if this would reign true when comparing it to the violence that arose during Hurricane Katrina. Again, no one is allowed to say that nobody cared about what was happening during Katrina, it was just that the people who did care did not have the money or status for their caring to make an impact. It was even mentioned in the documentary that the government has the money to send people to the moon and put billions towards the military, but they were not able to rescue many people from the hurricane or start helping clean up the destruction until about four months following Katrina. This just shows where the government’s priorities are, and that they are in fact in control of the severity of the majority of violence that occurs, they just do not care enough to stop this violence.
Patrick Smith’s “Blood Dazzler” brings you through the emotional journey of surviving Hurricane Katrina with poetry. These poems show the importance of the city and what the true meaning of it was to its people. They also show the dark truth behind the lack of support that they received from the government. Specifically, the poem “Up On The Roof”, explains how they were left stranded on their roofs begging for help from anybody that went by. For days these people had to watch people who could help them fly by and not even give a second thought to them. Helicopters were even able to fly over them and record them at their most vulnerable state and use that for profit, but they were not able to stop to help them in any way. They cared enough to report on the devastation and give terrifying statistics, “Cameras obsess with your chaos. Now think how America sees you: Gold in your molars and earlobes. Your naps knotted, craving a brushing. You clutch your babies regardless, keeping roaring your spite to where God is”(Smith 23). The government was able to exploit the people of New Orleans, showing them begging for help and at their lowest points but did not do anything to stop this. This also gave these survivors false hope, “Up on the roof, stumbling slickstep, you wave all your sheets and your blouses, towels, bandannas, and denims and etch what you ask in the morning: When are they coming to save us” (Smith 23). The only thing the government cared about was how they were being seen by the rest of the world, not how they were going to save these people. In this case, Saidiya Hartman’s quote “Care is the antidote to violence” may be a little too vague to compare to this situation. This is because the government did care, but they cared about their image and saving the wealthier parts of the city. This is where applying this quote the real-life devastations can be tricky because both the people of the city and the government cared, just about different things, and the violence still occurred.
Today, violence constantly surrounds us, whether it is fictional or it is real, it always seems to be present in our world. After thinking about Saidiya Hartman’s quote “Care is the antidote to violence” in comparison to the course’s central views, I have gained a better understanding of this quote. There is an absurd amount of brutality in our world and the extinction of violence does not seem like it will happen in the near future, but this is not to say that we cannot strive to reduce unnecessary violence. I do believe that there will always be immoral people and violence will always be a part of human nature, so when thinking of an antidote to violence the only one that seems like it would be effective would be human extinction. Until this happens I believe that we as humans can only strive for improving the state of our world rather than looking for an instant solution, because a problem like violence will not be instantly solved.