Rethinking Racism in Citizen by Claudia Rankine



Citizens by Claudia Rankine has really been an eye opening book.  It’s so easy to judge colored people and assume they are over dramatic and attention seekers, yet daily they are placed in the difficult battle of life.  Racism has always been a topic of discussion, whether I’ve heard about it on the news or learnt about it in class;however, it’s not something I thought occurred daily, rather happened periodically. For colored people, simply going to the grocery store or a coffee shop is a struggle, never knowing what racist comments will be said or how they will be treated.  It’s difficult to read this book and not feel partly responsible, considering I’m privileged and white and have more freedom than colored people.  I grew up with the notion that I can do and be whatever I want, and while colored people want the same freedom, they do not, simply because the color of their skin is different. Colored people walk in the street daily wanting to live their lives happily and freely, which they don’t get to do, they are constantly in a personal battle, knowing that they have to act in an orderly manner not to draw any unwanted attention. They constantly have to think and overthink everything they want to do or say, so that they won’t be judged and called disgraceful names. It’s not a life I would be able to live, even as Jews we get treated poorly at times and get judged, yet even then, we live freer lives then black people. Although this book shows so many situations that are unimaginable and so hard to grasp, Claudia Rankine has taught me one powerful lesson, no matter the mistreatment blacks face they always preserve. The world is a cruel place with imperfect people, but what makes the mistreatment of blacks so difficult is that most people are aware of what’s being done, yet nothing is done to defend them. Why should a person's color change the way they are treated?Who made whites more superior?How can people be aware of  racism and not try to change the world?It’s not fair that color determines how people see you and how you are treated, we as people are all created equally, meaning we should all be treated equally. Sometimes it takes reading a book with powerful words to see how truly big a problem is.The author brings in so many examples that really help us realize the severity of the situation. The examples also show us that on a daily basis colored people constantly battle subconsciously to have self control, unable to defend themselves because if they do they are no longer the victims, rather they become perpetrators.  The author writes a phrase, “ You can’t put the past behind you, it’s buried in you,” which really resonated with me. It’s simple, yet so powerful. Colored people seem so strong, trying to show us that what people say and do have no effects on them, but in reality they do.  Every mistreatment and every hardship they face because of the color of their skin, becomes a part of them. As much as they may try, they can never forget that they will never be like us because they have darker skin. It hurts to realize that as humans we can treat people this way.  It’s sad to say that racism is so apparent in society that it has become almost a natural way to treat blacks.