Citizen, Pt. 1: Group 1

{Posted by Nicole}

In the book Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine tells many short stories of racism. The stories vary greatly in how racism is delivered. I see most of her stories fitting into either intentional and unintentional racism. Do you see these options as significantly different, and how? Do they cause different reactions in the narrator? Is one more obvious or hurtful than the other? What other categories could you sort the short stories into and why?

2 Replies to “Citizen, Pt. 1: Group 1”

  1. Whether racism is intentional or unintentional, I think they carry the same weight and are both part of the same, larger issue. It is easy to want to defend the “unintentional” racism, but it has just gone on too long for people to continue to claim their “ignorance.” It’s simply not a good enough excuse. Racism is a problem that is so devastatingly common that one cannot and should not be ignorant about. The only way to combat it is to completely be aware of all of its layers (to the amount that one can understand it without directly experiencing it). You cannot change what you do not know. So to provoke change you need to make an effort to know. Many want to separate themselves and claim innocence in saying that they did not create the system directly. While this may be true, it does not mean you can sit there and benefit from the system and recognize that the system was built to be a certain way. It was built to oppress a certain group of people and benefit another.
    Portraying racism in this way throughout the book may provoke different reactions from both the narrator and the reader, I think. It places an emphasis on they smaller ways it shows up in life too, the ways that can often be overlooked. It aims to represent a broader understanding of the ways in which racism shows up in every – day life.

  2. I think it is fair to say that intentional and unintentional racism differ to an extent, though really only from the fact that one is intentional and one is not. The reason for unintentional racism is not knowing it’s impacts or even that it exists, so one way to avoid unintentional racism is to educate oneself on how to avoid it — Rankine does a good job of expressing how unintentional racism can have just as much of a negative impact as intentional racism. That being said, even if only slightly, unintentional racism is not as bad as intentional racism, because intentional racism requires someone to be educated on what racist behavior is, yet still engage in it, usually in an inflammatory or purposefully hurtful manner. I can’t think of any other category to sort stories into, maybe experiences from individuals or on wider scales (Serena William’s experience with the media vs. the story about the doorbell lady)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *