In the final section of Citizen, by Claudia Rankine, the word “you” is focused on heavily. Within the first few pages of this section, the word “you” was being used so much that I was completely lost. But after reading it over a few times I began to realize that Rankine is trying to emphasize the word “you” to put the readers in the shoes of the black men and women who experience racism on a daily basis. “You are you even before you grow into understanding you are not anyone, worthless, not worth you” (139). In this quote, I believe Rankine is explaining how you are already at a disadvantage once you are born black. Before you even understand who you really are, you are worthless in the rest of society’s eyes due to your skin color. “Even though your own weight insists you are here, fighting off the weight of nonexistence” (139). This quote explains how although your physical weight and body are proof that you exist, that is the only thing fighting off the notion that you are nothing. There are many more examples throughout the first half of this section in which Rankine uses the word “you” to try and impact readers and make the experiences of racism resonate with them more.
In the second half of the final chapter, Rankine revisits the subject of Trayvon Martin. “Trayvon Martin’s name sounds from the car radio a dozen times each half hour. You pull your love back into the seat because though no one seems to be chasing you, the justice system has other plans” (151)”. On July 13th, 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the Trayvon Martin killing. A black citizen hears the news over the radio, and their significant other’s reaction is described. One is angry at the verdict and reacts accordingly, while the other attempts to calm them down. Even though you are not in danger, the justice system will find a way to hurt you. “Yes, and this is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it go. Move on” (151). As a black citizen, ignoring the unfair circumstances and racism to avoid further problems is a route many take. But should that be the way all people handle situations like this?
On the final page of the book, there is an image that seems to be detailing an ocean with many other features. When I look at it, on the right page I see a black leg with a chain around it, showing that blacks are locked behind barriers in our society. There are fish and rushing water beside it, implying that the black leg is going to be washed away and forgotten. When I then look at the left page, I see a zoomed-out picture, showing the surroundings of that leg. By looking at the left picture first and the right picture second, I feel that there is more emphasis on that leg being washed away and forgotten in a bigger ocean.
- Focusing on the Trayvon Martin section of this blog post, do you think that it is best to sit back and “let it go” when it comes to seeing examples of racism throughout your life, or is it better to step in and act, regardless of what backlash you will receive?
- Racism will never fully disappear in my opinion, but at the very least it is important to not let these instances of racism be forgotten (Trayvon Martin). In what ways can we make sure that these issues are never forgotten, and in what ways can we use these unfortunate situations as a learning tool?