In the last section of the book, Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine one word that is commonly referred to is the word “you”. The definition of you is used to refer to the person or people the speaker is addressing. With this we can assume that the author, Rankine, wants the reader to be put in the position of the “minority”. Giving us the thoughts and feelings to get through the mission of everyday racism. In the quote, “Nobody notices, only you’ve known, you’re not sick, not crazy, not angry, not sad- It’s just this, you’re injured” (Rankine 145); I get the understanding that when she says “you’re injured” she is speaking about the physical, psychological, and emotional instability these people endured. Evidence that may support this is “The worst injury is feeling you don’t belong so much to you-” (Rankine 146). By what Rankine is saying by this is even though you are a person and know you are, others see you’re skin color and race as second class citizens.
One the final page of the book there is a close up picture and the zoomed out picture. In the close up view, you see a black leg with chains, birds, and fish swimming. The chained leg symbolizes the hardships and struggles that African American culture has faced. Whereas, the birds and fish all symbolize freedom; the freedom to go where ever they would like without judgement and struggles. As one looks at the expanded or zoomed out view there’s more to the picture that can be interpreted. In the background you see a ship which could have two meanings. The first meaning is freedom; the freedom to sail the open sea without restrictions or consequences. The second can be taken another way where they were brought over on ships and taken in as slaves. The beginning of lost rights, hardships, struggles, and finally barriers along the way. These symbols made the saying second class citizens come more into picture.
- Looking more closely at the two pictures in the end of the book. What do you think are the symbols the author is trying to get across the reader’s mind?
- The word “you” is used heavily in the second half of the reading. What do you think the word “you” is being interpreted as? After understanding the use of the word “you”, do you feel that you were put in the position of the author was?