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."
2012
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

I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

59965
views

Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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

He’s Not My President, And I’m Sorry That He’s Yours

I refuse to acknowledge him as "my" president, he doesn't deserve it.

210
views

It's been about two years since Donald Trump has officially taken office and became your president. I say "your" because he is not my president and I refuse to acknowledge him as such. I refuse to associate this man with one of the most powerful titles because he does not uphold the standards of what it means to be president. Donald Trump is a failed businessman, WrestleMania participant, and T.V. personality, but he is no president.

In the past, we've elected leaders whose ideas and vision for this nation didn't align with mine, but Donald Trump is another kind of malevolence that I refuse to believe runs the United States of America. Go ahead, call me all the names in the book; snowflake, libtard, or whatever your petty, little heart desires—your president still incompetent and runs his platform based off of false hope, an abundance of lies, and a xenophobic agenda.

This man single-handedly fooled an entire group of people that the United States was going to build a wall at the southern-most border (as if there isn't already a wall there) to keep out "criminals" (undocumented immigrants fleeing their country in order to survive) and said Mexico was going to pay for it (which they never did and never will.) This entire plan was flawed from the beginning; it was founded upon hate and pure ignorance. I hate to break it to you, but this country was founded upon immigrants and that's never going to change.

Your president even had a temper tantrum and shut down the government for 35 days, he doesn't care about the citizens of this nation, and to be quite frank, he never did in the first place. He never will unless it benefits him in some way. We're talking about the same man who addresses woman like their objects, views minorities like criminals, opposition for the LGBTQ community, makes a mockery of disabled people, honestly, the list can go on and on. What makes you genuinely believe he cares about you?

President's Day was initially created to celebrate George Washington's Birthday but eventually was adapted to commemorate the presidency as a whole somewhere along the line. So this President's Day, as we reflect upon your President's legacy for what he's created thus far, I'm sorry. I'm not sorry he'll be remembered as one of the worst presidents to go down in history and I can't wait until this nightmare is over.

Related Content

Facebook Comments