Notes on Lateral Violence

2018 has been the year of learning about LATERAL VIOLENCE.



“No person is your friend who demands your silence or denies your right to grow”.

-Alice Walker

Lateral violence is displaced violence directed against one’s peers rather than adversaries. Near-synonyms include horizontal violence, intra-racial conflict, and internalized colonialism.

One of the primary causes is generational trauma (caused by white supremacy, colonization, white people, patriarchy, etc.).

Outside the racial context, the term is also used in explanation of workplace bullying, though in that case the circumstances are much different. Except when the work is in social justice.

Also sometimes known as “bullying” lateral violence is a better term bc it removes the stigma and pressure placed on survivors /victims of “being bullied.”

Some common signs of lateral violence:

  1. It comes as a total surprise shock since you don’t expect to be attacked by your peers / accomplices.
  2. Because you didn’t expect to be attacked by them — your first response will be one of concern for your peer/friend/coworker. you will try to understand and even protect them… which in a real case of lateral violence is unfortunately just a waste of energy/time/emotional labor.
  3. It is inherently gaslighting: undermining what you thought you could count on, depleting your support system, not only from the loss of the violent peer, but also, due to the nature of this violence, others in your circle WILL be forced into difficult situations of choice. Some may (will) choose not to support you. This is wrong and they may well come to regret it later, but it will hurt in the moment in not just emotional but likely also practical ways

Lateral violence is by far the most painful.

When you try to silence me from speaking my truth — bc you don’t want to hear it or don’t like it — that is lateral violence.

The kind of lateral violence, victim blaming, and gaslighting I all too frequently bear witness to lately is often but not always accompanied by respectability politics and tone policing.

The question is basic simple and essential: when will we let folx live and respect poc/femme autonomy and free will?

When will we choose a CONSENT CULTURE ?! … When will we evolve into an ACTUAL SUPPORT NETWORK… not just recreating broken systems of miscommunication?

Support my work and become a subscriber!




making stories visual + leading outside yoga + telling art narratives