Academic journal article American Studies

ARRESTED JUSTICE: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation

Academic journal article American Studies

ARRESTED JUSTICE: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation

Article excerpt

ARRESTED JUSTICE: Black Women, Violence, and America's Prison Nation. By Beth E. Richie. New York: New York University Press. 2012.

Ms. B., Tanya, and the New Jersey 4 (Vernice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Renata Hill, Patreese Johnson). Tamika Huston, Kelley Williams-Bolar, Tiawanda Moore, and Kemba Smith. Their tragic sufferings bear witness to "arrested justice" by making visible the obscene reality of what Beth E. Richie calls "the male violence matrix"-the physical, sexual, and emotional assaults encountered by black women at the intimate, community, and state levels (127). A criminology, law, and justice scholar and anti-violence advocate, Richie documents not only their stories-the sort often obliterated or minimized-but also the unjust treatment, legislation, and increasingly decontextualized anti-violence struggles and analyses that have driven advocacy and reform.

The black women whose names appear above experienced a range of violence- from physical assaults at the hands of police officers and a homophobic stranger, intimidation and murder by male partners, and condemnation and systemic exclusion. Their stories are not theirs alone. They reveal a process of criminalization-whether because of their race and gender, class and sexuality, audacity to walk in "off-limits" public spaces, attempt to secure a better education for children, or decision to engage in community activism-that violates them yet again. Such denigration, alongside identity and the political milieu, influences the responses of the media, the state, and activist communities.

In the chapter "How We Won the Mainstream but Lost the Movement," Richie persuasively charts how movement advocates, over time, excluded entire swaths of women and by extension forms of violence in their search for mainstream legitimacy and resources in the conservative political eras of the 1980s and 1990s-a time rife with attacks on the social safety net for marginalized groups. …

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