Analysis Of Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric

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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. In order to understand how solidarity will be used in the essay, it is important to contrast how Taylor uses it and how it will be used in relation to Rankine’s work. Taylor defines solidarity as “standing in unity with people even when you have not personally experienced their particular oppression” (215). However, she uses it in terms of…show more content…
The boy, who has been pushed down and subsequently ignored by the man, represents African-Americans or people of color as a whole; the narrator and the group of men represent those who stand in solidarity with POC; and the rude man represents white people who cannot empathize with those who do not look as they do. The white man, standing in for all others like him in this country, refuses to see the violence he and others enact toward people of color. They, like he, do not apologize, nor do they help those who have been pushed down. Instead, they focus on themselves and their own interests. They ignore the problems they have caused and keep walking. It is this sort of egocentrism and indifference to those who are different from them that creates the division that is often blamed on people of color, who only want to have their voices and struggles heard and
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