Citizen: An American Lyric

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 focuses largely on mental health and the importance of history in creating a narrative. Rankine writes, "to live through the days sometimes you moan like deer. Sometimes you sigh. The world says stop that. Another sigh. Another stop that. Moaning elicits laughter. Sighing upsets," (59). This thought repeats the sentiment expressed in chapter 2, regarding the difference between "sellable anger" and the other, unmarketable but more genuine "..anger built up through experience and the quotidian struggles against dehumanization..." - the kind of anger, Rankine states, that makes a person appear insane (24). Later, Rankine writes "you like to think memory goes far back though remembering was never recommended. Forget all that, the world says. The world's had a lot of practice. No one should adhere to the facts that contribute to narrative, the facts that create lives," (61). She recognizes the sentiment that one should put the past behind them, but proceeds to express the futility attempting to disregard one's narrative, by stating "the world is wrong. You can't put the past behind you. It's buried in you; it's turned your flesh into its own cupboard," (63). This is evinced again later in the chapter in reference to Serena Williams: "The commentator wonders if the player will be able to put this incident aside. No one can get behind the feeling that caused a pause in the match, not even the player trying to put her feelings behind her, dumping ball after ball into the net," (65). In building a racial personality, the speaker of Citizen refers to what a companion had once advised her that there exists a “Self-Self” and a “Historical Self” that are in conflict with race. At the point when the authentic information of racism and the desires of its omnipresence are put next to the worldwide resident, the individual, it prompts a kind of mental disharmony. This the speaker says “is how you are a citizen: Come on. Let it go… Move on” (122) feeling alone in her otherness. Traveling through the book-length verse lyric, the reader comes to relate to the dynamic way of the judged—" Every day your mouth opens and receives the kiss the world offers, which seals you shut…the go-along-to-get-along tongue pushing your tongue aside" (125). Rankine investigates racism and unmindful racial partiality as a somewhat implicit, open outcast, and the visually impaired quest for an answer, which just on occasion, unfortunately, is to end up a citizen (Helmintoller[4]).


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