Academia. Sporting events. Grocery lines. The front lawn.
These are the places, among countless, where racial aggressions happen. Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric confronts these aggressions candidly in poetry, essays, scripts, snippets and vignettes. Moments that will jar and enlighten...render the reader uncomfortable, sorrowful, thankful.
"In Rankine’s world, we, as audience, are both the spectacle and the representation. We are both the protagonist and the antagonist." --The Rumpus, review
I'll just say, I couldn't read this book without mountains of inward contemplation. The idea from the Rumpus review that Rankine renders her readers both protagonist and antagonist works like a mirror putting you at the center of every moment. To see what you see when you look inside.
I flipped back through my experiences to those moments when I might've been the aggressor. When I wish I'd thought more and spoken less.
I also thought of womanhood and the sexist things people say or do because...because that's the closest I'll ever come.
Dismissive. Thoughtless. Personal. Systemic.
While I know I can't inhabit the experience of a black man or woman in America, this book is such a powerful examination...both analytical and emotional in the writing style, word choice, the variety of forms. The changing nature of it.
I haven't read a more powerful, artful, frank book all year, and for that reason among many, I struggled with how I wanted to write about it. I can't give you a full indication of the experience because you have to dig into this writing for yourself, firsthand, and it's made even more powerful by listening to Rankine read.
To learn more about Citizen, read The Socratic Salon's discussion.