Introduction Looking at the nightly news, many would believe violent crimes are at an all-time high. There are not just one on one violent crimes or gang violent crimes. There is court shootings, school shootings, church shootings, theater shootings, mall shootings, workplace shootings, and others. Where most one on one crime is committed with illegal guns, mass shootings are done with handguns purchased legally.
America is a national melting pot. However, the nation is haunted by its evil history of the oppression of an entire race of people, known as American slavery. Even though this systematical form of oppression through slavery has been ridden, racial tensions in the nation are still prominent. Systematic oppression is apparent today through the police force, whose actions at times exhibits racial bias and targeting. Instances of racial hate crimes have occurred on multiple accounts throughout history.
The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore are just a few examples that initiated violent riots around the country, having been at the hands of white police officers. Of course racial tensions, in these cases, would rise again due to the image of a black man being killed by a white police officer, although these tensions might have had diminished since the Civil Rights era (Cherry 2016). Cherry suggests that the motive behind hate crimes against black is all about white people feeling in control. In other words, the power of domination and exclusion is being white, otherwise they would “cease to exist for want of reason” whether this power is direct or insidious
Although slavery and segregation have been abolished and deemed illegal, racism is still a major issue in today’s society. In Claudia Rankines, Citizen: An American Lyric, she explores racism in a unique way. She takes situations that happen on a daily basis, real life tragedies and acts in the media to analyze and bring awareness to the subtle and not so subtle forms of racism. While reading Citizen, people may interpret Rankine’s use of different pronouns as a way to detach herself from the situations so she wouldn’t come across as biased or one sided. However, through repeated use of different pronouns in Citizen, Rankine pulls the focus of the readers making them feel like they can identify with the different situations.
Claudia Rankine’s powerful book of nonfiction poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric, deals with everyday microaggressions faced by African-Americans in the United States. There is a scene in the book in which a boy is knocked over and then ignored by a man in a subway station. In Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s “From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation,” there is talk of solidarity - what it means and what it could mean for members of struggling groups to unite in such a manner. In this essay, I will argue that the aforementioned scene in Rankine’s book exposes the solidarity, and lack thereof, between white and nonwhite groups in the United States through the use of analogy.
Rankine exploits and deconstructs what has been called "post-race" society. Her prose asks us to rethink our obligations by probing the definitions of word "citizen." She writes, "to know what you'll sound like is worth noting"(69). She uses second person because it forces the reader to question what it means to be an American, to belong to this country.
By 1892, black populations experienced incredible lynch violence, which “offered a new tool for creating order and maintaining white supremacy.” Lynching was a ritual now—an outlet for whites who feared black political influence and black success. Over time, though, locals saw lynching as unsightly for their villages. To some, mob violence was even unlawful. This eventually led to a public condemnation of mob leaders.
White Citizens performed widespread campaigns of lynches of African Americans without anyone stopping them. Between 1880 and 1950, lynch mobs of mainly white men tortured and murdered approximately 3,500 African Americans, often before large crowds of spectators, to avenge unlawful
Citizen is a biographical assemblage of experiences collected by a female of color living in America. Claudia Rankine experiences racism by different members of the society and as frequently as it might have occurred, she assembled a collection that were notable and depicts how casual and every day racial incidents can occur. The compilation of experience she illustrated were with people whom she had relationship with, who appeared to have forgotten her race amongst their everyday dealing
Claudia Rankine a renown poet, uses her novel “Citizen: An American Lyric” to discuss issues of race and imagination. Claudia Rankine is an absolute master of poetry and uses her gripping accounts of racism, through poetry to share a deep message. Claudia Rankine uses poetry to correlate directly to accounts of racism making Citizen a profound experience to read. Not only is this poetic novel a vision of her world through her eyes, Rankine uses the experiences of Americans whose color has rendered them invisible to the many who are privileged enough to be blind and not note racism as a large issue in America. Claudia Rankine articulates the use of you and further emphasizes the larger meaning of the title Citizen and recognizing that word through societal issues.
Those who have a high exposure to negative television portrayals of African Americans are more inclined to make negative assumptions about African Americans. Sadly, unfavorable portrayals of this particular group of people not only influences the whites’ perception of them, but it influences the perceptions of the group as well. The perpetuation of African Americans as lazy has been embedded in American society, not only by words and images projected by journalists but also by a wide variety of other media and entertainment sources. The implicit bias has impacted the way African American communities have been and are being treated across practically all sectors of life in America, from courtrooms to doctors’ offices. Media bias not only negatively impacts this group’s relationship with law enforcement and the judicial system, but it extends to how they are perceived in society at large.
In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the lynching of the Black people in the Southern and border states became an institutionalized method used by whites to terrorize Blacks and maintain white supremacy. In the South, during the period 1880-1940, there was deep-seated and all-pervading hatred and fear of the Negro which led white mobs to turn to “lynch law” as a means of social control. Lynchings, which are open public murders of individuals suspected of crime conceived and carried out more or less spontaneously by a mob, seem to have been an American invention. In Lynch Law, the first scholarly investigation of lynching, which was written in 1905, author James E. Cutler stated that. “Lynching is a criminal practice which is peculiar to the United States.
“The lives of black men in the US have long been adversely affected by negative public perceptions”(Donaldson). The 21st century consists of a great variety of media forms like video games, television, social media, etc., and during the 20th century it was television, newspapers, and other traditional media forms. Most Black people were mocked and criticized for their lack of knowledge. They were treated as property and not people, an example of this is the lost and found slave ads. These ads gave detailed descriptions of black people and offered compensation if they were found, thus treating them as property and not as people.
When Claudia Rankine addresses visibility in Citizen, a main issue of concern is the stigmatization of a black person’s skin. Throughout the book Rankine displays how being black, or a minority, in today’s society equates to being viewed as basal and, or innately criminal. The scenario in which a black man’s role switches from babysitter to delinquent simply because the color of his skin appears menacing to his white counterpart clearly exhibits said jarring claim (15). In addition, the attention brought onto skin color also reveals the hypocrisy in labeling today’s society as “post race” since implied judgments and preconceived notions of minorities still plague social exchanges. As a result, the line separating a genuine misunderstanding
“Surrender is no guarantee that an armed police officer will not shoot you,” this quote by Steven Magee symbolizes exactly what victim Trayvon Martin experienced. According to an article written in 2015, the first ever attempt by United States record keepers to properly record the average of 928 individuals were killed by law enforcement over eight contemporary years as compared to 383 which was falsely publicized and miscounted by the FBI. In Lillian Bertram’s poem, “Skittles for Trayvon: A Diminishing Suite in Verse,” she depicts this prominent issue by reenacting a popular case through her poetry. The Trayvon Martin shooting occurred on the 26th February in 2012 when Martin, a 17-year old teenager, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman while walking back to home in the gated community where he was momentarily staying. Lillian Bertram who is currently in the process of acquiring her PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Utah has been recognized for her work that often supports the African American community.