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Citizen: An American Lyric (2014)

by Claudia Rankine

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,525619,293 (4.21)101
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I first heard of this book in 2017 when a visiting pastor spoke at our church and read one of the poems as part of her sermon. Once again, another Black man had been killed at the hands of police. This time it was Freddie Gray and while Citizen was released in 2014 and therefore didn't cover the police brutality since then, Citizen tells the story of aggression large and small experienced by Black US citizens and not much has changed.
Several sections are framed as video segments and follow different instances of police brutality, while others are about riding on a train, going to a coffee shop, existing in a Black body.

Poetry isn't my preferred medium so it took me three years to finish what is a relatively short book. I kept putting it down and then it'd sit on my nightstand for several months before I read more. I can't speak on the quality of the verse, but Rankine really covers a full range of emotion here, describing it on page and eliciting it in the reader. ( )
  Cerestheories | Nov 8, 2021 |
This book belongs on your shelf. ( )
  auldhouse | Sep 30, 2021 |
If you want to know what microagressions are, THIS IS THE BOOK!

The first four sections of this book read more like a novel than a poetry collection, and are some of the best use of second-person narration I've ever read. It's a very confrentational way to put the reader in the shoes of the author & to understand her experience. Some of the later chapters were harder to understand, as Rankine skews more towards the poetic form, and a lot of them are scripts for "video created in collaboration with John Lucas". I had the privilege to meet Claudia Rankine through my job three years ago (which is when I got this book) and she played some of the videos, which were perhaps a more effective medium for the message. So I'd like to revisit some of those. ( )
  jooniper | Sep 10, 2021 |
Expertly written series of essays, poems, and thoughts on the black experience. Many of the pieces start with a high profile event of black trauma (e.g., Katrina, Trayvon Martin) with telling anecdotes from the author's life woven throughout. Rankine's prose is beautiful, but I found her most powerful moments sometimes came in what she deliberately chose not to say. By leaving her descriptions of situations sparse but exacting, she invites readers to actually do the labor of perceiving both the blatant and subtle racism black people encounter daily. She doesn't need to specify the race of anyone involved, or what the meaning of an empty public transport seat is -- her minimalistic words pack a punch. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
I can't review it.
I have no idea about poetry.
I can't even say I enjoyed it because the content was not entertaining
it was exactly what it was supposed to be
it was extremely thought provoking.

"because white men can't
police their imagination
black men are dying"

"And where is the safest place when that place must be someplace other than in the body?" ( )
  Stamat | Apr 20, 2021 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rankine, Claudiaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artero, Raquel VicedoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, AllysonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If they don't see happiness in the picture, at least they'll see the black.
Chris Marker, Sans Soleil
Dedication
For

Donovan Harris
Charles Kelly
Frankie Porter
Richard Roderick
First words
When you are alone and too tired to even turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows.
Quotations
Then the voice in your head silently tells you to take your foot off your throat because just getting along shouldn't be an ambition.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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