Citizen by Claudia Rankine

I read another book from my reading list over a month ago and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

The book Citizen by Claudia Rankine is a book or prose, which tells the story of what it’s like to be Black in modern America. Rankine covers everyday micro aggressions, that are often experienced by African-Americans in the 21st century, like being followed in your own neighborhood, or being reported to the police, when you are housesitting for a friend in the suburbs. She also writes of major injustices, like police brutality and shootings of Black people.

What I enjoyed was that she discussed the experiences of Black women, like Serena Williams, who despite their talent and class, have been demeaned and made into caricatures by white society. It is a very relatable book. I read this book right after I finished reading Souls of Black Folk by DuBois and I found that much of the injustices that Rankine writes about have been ongoing. For example the police brutality that she describes through her lyrics harkens back to what DuBois wrote about in Souls of Black Folk:

” The police system of the South was originally designed to keep track of all the Negroes, not simply of criminals; and when the Negroes were freed and the whole South was convinced of the impossibility of free Negro labor, the first and almost universal device was to use the courts as a means of re-enslaving the blacks” (Souls of Black Folk, p. 108)

I find this quote very relevant in the present day.

Overall, I recommend this book for every Black person, especially Black women. It is a short read, but very poignant.

My Favorite Excerpt from Citizen:

“The man doesn’t acknowledge you as you sit down because the man knows more about the unoccupied seat than you do. For him, you imagine, it is more like breath than wonder; he has had to think about it so much you wouldn’t call it thought.

When another passenger leaves his seat and the standing woman sits, you glance over at the man. He is gazing out the window into what looks like darkness. 

You sit next to the man on the train, bus, in the plane, waiting room, anywhere he could be forsaken. You put your body there in proximity to, adjacent to, alongside, within” (Citizen, p. 131)

I thought that passage was pretty thought-provoking.



2 thoughts on “Citizen by Claudia Rankine”

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