Anthony TweleCitizen Citizen is a book written by Claudia Rankine. It is a book made up of experiences lived by an African American or maybe even the author. Citizen discussion or poems are started by how black people repeatedly persecuted through violence and ignorance. And Rankine made this book clear that racism is everyone’s problem. Also in the beginning of the book Rankine is using the second person “you”.
In the process of reading the book while it uses the second person the reader is experiencing the constant denial of African Americans throughout the world. From the start of the book the reader is included in the text by the use of second person of Rankine “you”. For example ” You are twelve attending Sts.
Phillip and James school on White Plains Road and the girl sitting in the seat behind you asks you to lean to the right during his answers on copy what you have written….. she tells you you smell good and have features more like a white person.” (5) While in the process of reading you are experiencing the constant repeated ill treatment to blacks in the US. From Rankine showing the defame of Serena Williams showing how she is a “angry black women” or how she described a n word heard in Starbucks. Rankine makes it heard and clear that the inequality in America is relentless.
For example she writes “He tells you he’s doing is making him hire a person of color well there are so many great writers out there. Do you think maybe this is an experiment and you are being tested or retroactively he tells you he’s doing is making him hire a person of color well there are so many great writers out there. Do you think maybe this is an experiment you are being tested or retroactively insulted.” (10) . Later on in the text she says “when the woman with multiple degrees says, I didn’t know black woman kidney cancer, instinctively take two steps back” (45). To read citizen it is painful but suffering and the stories of ignorance and disrespect is what makes the book a required reading.
Knowing that the stories are true and many still live them forced Rankine to create and show that people are conscious of these actions. Rankine’s discusses the racism in today’s society from modern to old history ; for example Zinedine Zidane’s World Cup head but, and Trayvon Martin’s death. All throughout Citizen the reader is being forced to learn the victims names of racial violence. So the readers will search up the stories of the people they don’t know and to feel sadness or mourn the failure of the justice system. Claudia also used “An American Lyric” as the subtitle to Citizen referring to “An American Slave” the subtitle of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Which also has a role with how the book is structured and what it is about. Douglass was a slave and called the false virtue of “freedom” which America is founded on.
ANd there are many times in the book where freedom and race was violated for example the Serena Williams incident. Citizen is also filled with many questions, with disbelief about daily accounts of the belittlement of blacks. For example “Did she really just say that?” (9) , “What did you say” (41,43,14). The questions overtime become familiar and some of the readers could see that Rankine was tired of the steady persecution on blacks. So she wrote”Yes, and this is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it Go. Move on.
” (151). The book as it progresses the reading experiences are changing. First it was a poet’s effort to create daily racism, to then to build it to a paragraph form. Rankine shows how there is not one way to pave a way or channel trauma into creative passages o expressions. Citizen is also an apt descriptor, it’s not only a historical work of art.
Meaning it’s appropriate or suitable in the circumstances.