Everyday Racism In Claudia Rankine's Citizen By Claudia Rankine

1292 Words6 Pages
In the novel, Citizen, author Claudia Rankine shows her concerns with the subtle “everyday racism” African Americans experience on a daily basis and the profound effects this has on their self-image, and uses the secondary pronoun “you” to allow the reader to feel as if they were dealing with these microaggressions. Rankine intervenes in current debates about racism due to her approach on everyday racism. In a time where macroaggressions such as police brutalities have reached the news and is taking up a lot of the racial discussion in the United States, Rankine tries to show the reader the root of the problem/where these macroaggressions stemmed from. decides to take out a magnifier to look at where the disease starts. The novel tracks both microaggressions and macroaggressions, from small to large, and Rankine often uses the pronoun “you,” to include the reader as a responsible party in the events as they unfold. Within the first few chapters, Rankine describes activities that are so ordinary that one does not notice the guarded racism that is beneath it all. Racism in itself is not difficult to recognize in its extreme forms. However, everyday racism is much more subtle and requires attention. It requires the recipient to be aware of the situation as to what is being said and how it is being said. One of these seemingly subtle incidents of everyday racism, Rankine uses the pronoun “you” by stating, “[b]ecause of your elite status from a year’s worth of travel, you have already settled into your window seat on United Airlines, when the girl and her mother arrive at your row. The girl, looking over at you, tells her mother, these are our seats, but this is not what I expected. The mother’s response is barely audible—I see, she s... ... middle of paper ... ...o many African American’s in trouble. Successful black artists such as Hennessy Youngman, and any famous black rapper, are only able to fit into the racial imaginary because they’re making money while doing it, and if it gets them in trouble they have a sufficient amount of money to get out of it. Young African American kids look up to these rappers and try to copy how they act, talk, and their style but that’s not making the kids money, and in turn it perpetuates the racial imaginary, even though they’re more than likely genuinely good kids. If they don’t play into the racial imaginary, their black bodies are erased in day to day situations. Yet, when the kids continue playing into the racial imaginary, they are then faced with microaggressions, which then leads to built up anger, which then gets them put in jail, entrapping them in a vicious and never ending cycle.

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