Everything shaded everything darkened everything shadowed
is the stripped is the struck–
I they he she we you were too concluded yesterday to know whatever was done could also be done, was also done, was never done–
The worst injury is feeling you don’t belong so much
What is a citizen? Claudia Rankine questions everyday life by exposing how common and detrimental microaggressions are in our society. What really showcases her concepts in my opinion are the photographs that are found throughout the text. From the Jim Crow street sign, a picture taken in 2008, to the Wozniacki mimicry of Serena William’s physic taken in 2012, these images are current visual representations of the issues she’s speaking about.
As we move through the very blatantly thick and white pages, we are exposed to large text, long sentences, and increasingly abstract images.
“I left my client’s house knowing I would be pulled over. I knew. I just knew.” These every day spaces we inhabit are thick with racism–thick with what is considered conventional speech and conventional attitudes. “And you are not the guy and still you fit the description” she writes, something she mentions again and again–“Do you feel hurt because it’s the “all black people look the same” moment…” The subversive microaggressions are seen again and again in these areas of daily life…the friend who has the housekeeper, who can afford a housekeeper, commits this “domestic tragedy.” Rankine doesn’t depict an impoverished world but rather discusses her world, a world where people do have housekeepers and sometimes those housekeepers are black. Where everyone goes to movies but while at the movies “your neighbor tells you he is standing at his window watching a menacing black guy” who turns out to be an invited friend on the phone. A world where even Starbucks is a battlezone of racial slurs and responses go a little like this: “Hey, I am standing right here” and “Come on, no need to get all KKK on them, you say.” A world where even awe-inspiring Serena Williams is faced with the question: “What does a victorious or defeated black woman’s body in a historically white space look like?” The ludicrous nature of all of this is both eye-opening and sickening. A life where a trauma specialist is terrified at the sight of you, because she’s only ever spoken to you on the phone. In that moment “It’s as if a wounded Doberman pinsher or a German Shepherd has gained the power of speech.”
Her words have made my heart pound and my skin tight.
2 thoughts on “Week 3, Day 4: Oh my Beautiful, Commanding Rankine”
I loved your post, Amanda! Yes, reading slave narratives and then reading this reminds me of narratives about loss of ownership of ones body. Does being a citizen now mean that the rights are equal? does it mean that racism can be reversed once the law changes? Not to the individuals who sense the racist spaces they enter. I loved these poems as well.
Yes, so the powerful sense of the pervasiveness of this kind of pain … information perhaps best conveyed through a poem?