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Just Us: An American Conversation (2020)

by Claudia Rankine

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
233495,742 (4.06)15
A TLS, FINANCIAL TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, GUARDIAN AND OBSERVER BOOK OF THE YEAR From award-winning writer Claudia Rankine, the stunning follow-up to Citizen and Don't Let Me Be Lonely 'Audacious, revelatory, devastating' Robin DiAngelo At home and in government, contemporary America finds itself riven by a culture war in which aggression and defensiveness alike are on the rise. It is not alone. In such partisan conditions, how can humans best approach one another across our differences? Taking the study of whiteness and white supremacy as a guiding light, Claudia Rankine explores a series of real encounters with friends and strangers - each disrupting the false comfort of spaces where our public and private lives intersect, like the airport, the theatre, the dinner party and the voting booth - and urges us to enter into the conversations which could offer the only humane pathways through this moment of division. Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, and to breach the silence, guilt and violence that surround whiteness. Brilliantly arranging essays, images and poems along with the voices and rebuttals of others, it counterpoints Rankine's own text with facing-page notes and commentary, and closes with a bravura study of women confronting the political and cultural implications of dyeing their hair blonde. Wry, vulnerable and prescient, this is Rankine's most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, and being together.… (more)
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
This book gave me new perspectives and some new insights on race problems in the USA and the world. It warrants a second read from me later this year. ( )
  Michael_Lilly | Jan 6, 2022 |
Despite agreeing with most everything in the book, I never fully engaged with it, and I suspect the distracting format played a part in that. Oddly, the text of the book is printed only on the right-hand page of each two-page spread. The left-hand page is reserved for photos, graphs, fact checks, notes on the text's sources, or, many times, it's just blank. The photos sometimes seemed a bit too random or dull, with a chapter about air travel offering bland shots out a plane window or passengers sitting in airports and another about hair giving way too many close-ups of dyed-blond locks. Still, at a certain point in the book, I found myself anticipating the left page more than the right, with its tantalizing social media posts and the original sources taking me down mental side roads more interesting than the occasionally too deeply introspective and too poetic main narrative. ( )
  villemezbrown | Feb 23, 2021 |
Throughout this year I've read or listened to many different books on race, relationship, history, biases but this book had a bigger impact on me than all those others. The inside cover of the book jacket states, that the author invites us into a necessary conversation about whiteness in America, and indeed that is exactly what the book provided. A black woman married to a white man, with friends from both races, I found her viewpoint unique. She questions reactions, even her own to various experiences, thoughts and as a mother concerned about her daughter and her daughter's future. She made me think, see things I've never even thought implied racism and shows how complicated and twisted, the racial divide is, once again rearing it's ugly head under the current administration. Or more likely it's always been there but now once again brought into the open.

She is a professor of poetry at Yale and this books style is telling as it reads sometimes like poetry. It includes a poem, illustrations, examples, some history and a chapter on blondness that I found fascinating. She doesn't lecture, her purpose is to make us question what we take for granted, what we see and don't see and I felt this, at least for me, is what she accomplished. A special, eye opening book, one I hope many read. ( )
1 vote Beamis12 | Dec 21, 2020 |
Poems, photos and prose about whiteness and related topics. “notes on the state of whiteness” reproduces portions of an edition of Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, with text not about Blacks removed. It’s powerful. A lot of the prose touches on various ways in which whiteness enables not having to see, and thus not seeing or remembering, both overt racist violence and racist structures. Rankine deeply interrogates her own reactions as a means of interrogating the world’s. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Sep 1, 2020 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Claudia Rankineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Edwards, JaninaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
You go down there looking for justice, that's what you find, just us.
—Richard Pryor
Dedication
For Us
First words
What does it mean to want
an age-old call
for change
not to change

and yet, also,
to feel bullied
by the call to change?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A TLS, FINANCIAL TIMES, NEW STATESMAN, GUARDIAN AND OBSERVER BOOK OF THE YEAR From award-winning writer Claudia Rankine, the stunning follow-up to Citizen and Don't Let Me Be Lonely 'Audacious, revelatory, devastating' Robin DiAngelo At home and in government, contemporary America finds itself riven by a culture war in which aggression and defensiveness alike are on the rise. It is not alone. In such partisan conditions, how can humans best approach one another across our differences? Taking the study of whiteness and white supremacy as a guiding light, Claudia Rankine explores a series of real encounters with friends and strangers - each disrupting the false comfort of spaces where our public and private lives intersect, like the airport, the theatre, the dinner party and the voting booth - and urges us to enter into the conversations which could offer the only humane pathways through this moment of division. Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, and to breach the silence, guilt and violence that surround whiteness. Brilliantly arranging essays, images and poems along with the voices and rebuttals of others, it counterpoints Rankine's own text with facing-page notes and commentary, and closes with a bravura study of women confronting the political and cultural implications of dyeing their hair blonde. Wry, vulnerable and prescient, this is Rankine's most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, and being together.

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