Claudia Rankine

Why ‘Citizen’ Was a Book That Mattered in 2016

I read Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” this summer, as I started a new job, teaching at a high-needs public school in New Orleans. Soon before the school year began, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by a white police officer in nearby Baton Rouge. I tried to process the onslaught of police murders against black men and women, and figure out what my place was, as a white woman, in fighting racism. Three lines from Rankine’s “Stop and Frisk,” remained stuck in my head for weeks: “Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.”

- Sophia Marie Unterman
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