Citizen An American Lyric Summary

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Thank you for thinking of me. I have just finished reading Citizen: An American Lyric. Reading it I realized that no matter how liberal our mindset on race, we white people have a great deal to learn about racism. It has made me realize that I had never truly understood the experience of the everyday racism that is experienced by people of color in this country. It made me realize that the extent of my racial consciousness comes in responding to major horrible events that capture major attention (Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, ect.). I was mostly ignorant of the way that a life spent dealing with racial prejudice can damage someone and even cause basic aspects of everyday life to be painful.

I found it especially impactful reading this book during the time period that I did, with Donald Trump’s successful campaign for the presidency and the ongoing controversy regarding police shootings acting as daily reminders that the virus of racism is still alive, well, and not even that hidden in American society. The most meaningful thing about this book to me was how you were able to link seemingly minor incidents of everyday racism to the historical treatment of people of
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It asks us to read the image, as Elizabeth Alexander wants us to, not simply as an image of something that has happened, but also the history that led to the incident being captured. The text that accompanies the images seem to be trying to give us a way to talk about these people and incidents and how race, while a construct, still has real effects in the daily lives of so many. Alexander asks what people do with their histories of horror? Citizen answers back that “You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you..” The use of second-person narration throughout the book has the effect of putting you, personally, in the shoes of the people being talked about and helps you in feeling the pain and insecurity that is the result of these regular
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