Racism In Claudia Rankine's Poem Citizen

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The excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s poem Citizen chronicles several instances of modern everyday racism that the narrator faces. Rankine uses her own experiences to demonstrate the microagressions and racism that African Americans face every day. While some African American individuals try to change parts of their world, other people who do not face the same oppression do not understand that it needs to be changed. Throughout the poem, the narrator’s character growth is marked by her willingness to stand up for herself and her race.
In the first section, the narrator describes a time when she did not stand up for herself. When the man complains that his dean is making him hire someone of color when there are so many other good writers out there, …show more content…

She says she “wants time to function as a power wash”, and remove the memory of the ride from her mind before she enters her house. This stanza shows how distressed the narrator feels about the comment, proving that her method of coping is not viable, and that she cannot let go of the small instances of racism she experiences. Her attempts to ignore times when she is offended do not work, and in that regard, are little better than John Henryism. She still does not confront racism, which would allow her some closure on the matter, but rather than fight against …show more content…

The woman recalls how she told the man who pushed her son to apologize, a sentiment that the narrator sympathizes with, saying that she wants “the black child pushed to the ground to be seen, to be helped to his feet and be brushed off” showing what she would do in this situation. “The beautiful thing is that a group of men began to stand behind me like a fleet of bodyguards, she says, like newly found uncles and brothers” showing that because of the racism she experienced, a group of people united to protect her and her son. This is very different from the confrontation in Starbucks, when the narrator stands alone, and people seem to side more with the man’s racist comments than with her

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