Claudia Rankine On Microaggressions, Racism And White Privilege

Claudia Rankine On Microaggressions, Racism And White Privilege

"Every day you see, you hear, you don't speak up because you say 'It's not about me,' and that is white complacency."
2300
views

New York Time’s Bestselling author Claudia Rankine read aloud and spoke on her book-length poem "Citizen an American Lyric" on Tuesday at Eastern Michigan University.

"Citizen" was published in 2014 and is the only non-fiction poetry book to be a New York Time’s Bestseller. The book is a collection of microaggressions experienced by both Rankine and other persons of color. Using racism as a guiding theme, "Citizen" connects microaggressions with the lethal effects of racial prejudice.



Rankine’s voice read softly, but her soothing voice did nothing to cushion the weight of the words she spoke. She told the haunting tales of racial inequality that have plagued her. Her words evoked emotion and even brought tears to the eyes of audience members.

The most eye-opening event, however, took place during the question and answer session of the reading. An older, white man raised his hand eagerly to ask a question as soon as the opportunity presented itself. “How can we help?” he asked earnestly.

The intent of his question was good. He was a fellow advocate for racial equality and to him, this question was one in which he truly wanted an answer. Claudia Rankine responded in a way that entirely sums up why there is racial inequality still today.

“Asking [that question] means that there are two places to stand, when really the entire system is corrupt.” Asking how a white person can help acts as a divide between people of color and white people. It insinuates that black people have the solution to racism, they just need a white person’s help. This way of thinking only perpetuates systemic and institutional racism.

Racial inequality is a system in which white people must self-diagnose. Racism is not only a problem for people of color; it is everyone’s problem. As Rankine says, “We must live in a world better than this.” Everyone, black or white, man or woman, young or old, must contribute to undo the corrupt racial system we exist in.

When Rankine vocalized this thought, a wave of discomfort fell on the crowd. It became almost awkward, to be a white person sitting in a room and being told not to ask how we can help. And that is white privilege. Sitting in a room feeling slightly uncomfortable discussing race, while outside our doors, in our own cities, our own people being murdered for the color of their skin.

Cover Image Credit: Dr. Matthew Kirkpatrick

Popular Right Now

3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

57673
views

I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

6 Reasons Why Title IX Isn't Protecting Students

The pathway set out for students seeking help with sexual assault is flawed.

147
views

The protections against sexual assault college campuses need to provide must be easily accessible to everyone. That's because sexual assault on college campuses is a common problem. A problem that often goes unreported. Why is this a problem that is not being reported? Reasons vary from person to person; from being embarrassed to be called a liar to being terrified of any form of retaliation. We need to speak out against the injustices we face. Predators need to punished for their actions. Now, how can we help protect victims and exile predators in the "open-field" of college campuses?

In 1972 the Federal Civil Rights Law, Title IX, was passed. This law was established to prohibit sex discrimination at educational institutions; including sexual harassment and sexual violence. For many college campuses, this is the one and only option victims are geared towards. Though some argue we need title nine now more than ever, many disagree. Why? Well, Title IX has extensively dropped the percentage of successfully prosecuted cases from the time they started to the present day. It has become ineffective. Title IX is a critique of a system that protects sexual predators and hurts victims.

When talking to my friend, Mallory Clark, who has experienced going through Title IX, she described her situation like this: "I didn't report it to the police because everything was in his favor. I didn't have any support from Title IX."

Here and 6 reasons why Title IX is doing more harm than good in the status quo.

1. Title IX protects predators

Title IX can only successfully prosecute 9% of cases compared to 60% when they started. Why? That's because Title IX is informing predators on how to avoid "getting caught" or "getting in trouble". In a more detailed illustration; Title IX is educating predators on how to rape or sexually assault individuals. Predators are now modifying their tactics on their abusive actions in order not to fall under the laws Title IX has laid out. It's almost like telling predators "if you cut a sandwich down the middle, you'll be in trouble, but if you do it diagonally, you'll be good."

2. Emotional destruction is belittled

Unless an assault is categorized as "the worst accident in the world," Title IX won't actually do much about it. When a victim is called to give their testimony to Title IX officials, questions like "Did they force themselves on you?" "Did you say no?" "Were you drinking?" "What do you think caused this?" are asked in an interrogating-like style. Because of how Title IX makes it seem as if the only way you're a "true victim" is having been raped, victims feel as if maybe there really isn't any reason for them to be there testifying, much less any reason to feel broken.

An example of this is the way Title IX defines consent. They truly cannot frame or do anything about sexual assault/consent violations that are not clearly defined. Actions, like spreading naked pictures or stealing, are things Title IX still struggle to keep up with. For these reasons, many predators are clear off the radar because to Title IX, they didn't actually "do anything" physical to the victim, i.e. rape.

Something to consider: the physical and mental destruction a victim goes through on the daily having to see their abuser walk around freely, smiling, laughing, living. While the victim feels empty, disgusted and ashamed.

3. Their system takes forever

Title IX does not take immediate action. At least not in most cases. If they do it most likely because the student body was extremely involved in pushing actions to be taken not because Title IX was in a hurry. Title IX will tell us the process is inherently long. However, for as much red tape and bureaucracy they cite as reasons their investigations take so long, they sure do have a shocking amount of oversight. In a recent Title IX investigation at Boise State University, the investigation went four months over their deadline and the predator was able to graduate without them knowing about it. They claimed their hands were tied until the victim and their support system showed up with lawyers.

4. Title IX does not listen

Title IX has a lack of oversight. Title IX has been found to miss deadlines in approximately 54 college campus cases. This shows how little they pay attention to victims. Aside from not prioritizing their cases, Title IX has been giving victims bad advice. An example of this dates back to an incident at Baylor University where Title IX told the victim there was "nothing they could do about her situation" when there was. They simply did not want to deal with it.

The only agency able to regulate their behaviors is the office of ethics—which doesn't have enough funding money and only takes major cases into consideration. They can botch investigation after investigation without any consequences or ways to report or change their behavior

5. Gives institutional legitimacy to predators

Title IX makes it extremely difficult for survivors to find other avenues of justice. Hence why it is the one solution provided throughout college campuses on how to report and get help with any form of assault or discrimination. It makes it seems as if their validation and results are always correct. It makes it okay to call a survivor a "liar" if the invention was not successful.

6. The lack of an official Title IX coordinator

Though many college campuses may have an official Title IX coordinator, this is not applicable to everyone. In fact, Boise State University has not had a legitimate Title IX coordinator in four years. The person in charge at the moment isn't necessarily "qualified" for the position, yet they are still doing the job. This structural problem with Title IX is not being filled. This gets pushed off to the Gender Equity Center which is not equipped to handle the load of victims.

Related Content

Facebook Comments