Citizen Claudia Rankine Dance Analysis

Powerful Essays
Black Female Presence; Tennis and Dance
In Claudia Rankine’s, Citizen, she addresses a various amount of relatable circumstances as an African American. Rankine addresses a specific black figure in America, Serena Williams, as an example of a resilient and strong black female athlete. Serena is one of the examples in which Rankine points out racial inequality, and microaggressions in sports, she also opens up about the stereotypes placed in front of Serena and the personas Serena had to play for years of her career. I've found that in both dance and tennis, black women have faced judgement from spectacle, competed with mostly white counterparts, and have had to consistently reclaim their undeniable contribution to the sport and art form.
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The white background represents the foundation of these sports in America, and the White backdrop of viewers who can afford and fund these forms. In Kenneth Warrens article, “What is African American Literature”, he addresses African American literature through the lens of responding within or against the Jim Crow era. His argument is vital in realizing that not in only literature does this apply, but in any form. In this case athletic women are in response (inevitably) to the racial microaggressions of the tennis and dance world. Doesn’t that then provoke African American art, and activism? Serena's resilience in her career has shown to a form of activism for all athletes, and with body shaming, racial slurs, and false fouls being called, there is plenty of reason for her to have given up. This translates in dance as well, had ballerinas and influencers like Misty Copeland, Carmen De Lavallade, Janet Collins, and Michaela Deprince had given up and listened to those who tried to push them out of the form, the window for young dancers to train in sch forms would have been much more narrow, and hard to even imagine. In the text, Rankine, restates Zora Neale Hurston’s, “I feel most colored, when placed in front of a sharp white background.”(Rankine 52). This text in relation to Kenneth's argument is the example of how African American literature can be used in a multifaceted way. Not only does the text itself have levels in meaning and context, but can be related to may forms and people of
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