Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review of Claudia Rankine's "Citizen"

 

Professor Susan Ayres' forthcoming article Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen”:  Documenting and Protesting America’s Halting March Toward Racial Justice and Equality, provides a critical review of Claudia Rankin's multi-genre book "Citizen."

 Here is the abstract to this timely article:

"After the first election of President Barak Obama in 2008, there was a sense that the United States had reached a post-racial phase in its history.  That sentiment was relatively short-lived, because by 2013, when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, it was clear that President Obama’s election was not transformative.  More recently, during the presidential campaign and after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, undisguised racism in the United States has reared its ugly head.  Activists such as the Reverend Al Sharpton have been outspoken in their criticism of President Trump.  Sharpton has claimed, “Everything King fought so tirelessly for is under attack once again.”  Similarly, poet and activist Claudia Rankine considers the Trump Administration to be “about the primacy of whiteness,” and that as citizens, we must discuss and confront the concept of white privilege which undergirds our society.  Rankine does this in Citizen, a multi-genre work that documents racist microaggresssions and macroaggressions.  In this article, Citizen is analyzed using the tools of critical race theory and rhetoric for its potential to effect change in the fight for racial justice and equality." 

And here is an excerpt:

"A stunning and powerful work, Citizen’s documentary poems and art gallery of images may not trigger a revolution, but Rankine’s use of epideictic rhetoric encourages new perspectives and critical reflection and inspires the “possibility of social transformation. Rankine personally hopes for transformation, as she says in an interview: “I believe in possibility. I believe in the possibility of another way of being.” In another interview, Rankine comments, “The experience of writing it, which might or might not be the experience of reading it, was to see my community a little better, to see it, to understand my place in it, to know how it sounds, what it looks like, and yet, to stay on my street anyway.” Rankine’s belief in possibility and her tenacity inform a reading of Citizen."

To download the article forthcoming in the Alabama Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review, click here.

 

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/racelawprof/2018/04/claudia-rankines-citizen.html

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