Citizen: An American Lyric

Chapter 6

Rankine narrated multiple tragedies happening to African Americans in chapter VI. These tragedies clearly showed images of micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions against African Americans around the world. Rankine started with Hurricane Katrina, Treyvon Martin, followed by James Craig Anderson - tragedies that connect to the idea of continuous aggression against black bodies. Rankine also connected this chapter with the case of the Jena Six on December 4, 2006 in Louisiana, and the passage of Stop and Frisk laws. Rankine exposed the international effects of racism with the poem to Mark Duggan, killed by Police in London, and with the world cup poem, showing this was a global problem. Rankine used a situation video linking the passage of world cup with a scene of a second-generation Algerian soccer player playing for France (Zinedine Zidane) head-butting an Italian player in front of the world's eyes after some racially fueled remarks from the Italian. The scene is in slow motion as if a clear remark to the eye that is trying to accommodate this type of racial aggression and ignore it. Rankine also references the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Rankine brings the problem back to the individual with the passage called Making Room. In addition, in this passage the author gave a hidden answer to the question of racism. The author used second person as an argument and way of pointing fingers to denunciate an ongoing injustice of human segregations. Rankine used these continued passages as a reminder of the black American history that continues to exist in this century.

The priority of chapter VI was to focus on the still alive prejudice. Hurricane Katrina passage depicted the suffering of African Americans when they struggled to survive prior and after the hurricane catastrophes. CNN reporter, Anderson cooper, recalled the events during hurricane Katrina with images of people calling out for help. Hurricane Katrina impacted New Orleans and Louisiana, African American towns.

Rankine wrote, "And some said, where were the buses? And simultaneously someone else said, FEMA said it wasn’t safe to be there"(Pg 84). Rankine used the word FEMA as a clear statement that the authorities were well informed of the events. The author used FEMA as the governmental representation and the lack of mercy towards what she called black people, the poor people. "He said I don’t know what the water wanted. It wanted to show you no one would come"(Pg 85). By using metaphoric personifications, Rankine gave the sense that even water could let us know how less value were the African Americans lives to the white American eye. The passage in Memory of James Craig narrated the death of an African American man by white young teenagers. James Craig was beaten and ran over by the pick up truck, because he was African American or a person of color. "I ran that nigger over, itself a record-breaking hot June day in twenty-first century" (Pg. 94). The white kid said after killing the black man. This statement is so powerful and embraced the continuation of African American oppression in history. Rankine used the pick up truck as a connection between the pick up truck and the white Americans culture.

December 4, 2006, Jena Six Passages and Stop and Frisk related to the injustice and prejudice in the judicial system. Teens once again got involved in beating however this time not killing anyone. These kids were just furious in regards to racial statements done by the white kids at the school. The black kids sat next to the tree where only white kids usually sit and the next day three nooses were placed as a threat or as a reminder. The African American teenagers got angry, beat the white kids, and as consequence convicted as criminals on attempted murder now waiting for 25 to 100 years in prison. This passage is followed by Stop and Frisk, which talked about a man being detained just for his skin color. He was humiliated, his clothes taken away and he was beaten just for fitting the African American description. It was easier for an African American to go to prison than a White American.

Rankine was very precise on demonstrating that this discrimination against African American was not an individualized problem, but a global problem with the passages on the world cup and Mark Dugan in London. Young men killed for fitting the description of being African American. Last but not least she individualized the problem with the passage Making Room where a white woman preferred to be standing for long periods of time in a train than sitting next to an African American man. She found the solution to racism by sitting next to that man and calling him family. Rankine finalized the chapter with "in memory of …" (Pg. 135). Different victims of racial hatred and with the statement "Because white men can’t police their imagination black men are dying"(Pg 135). And calling out for unity by just sitting next to that men that perhaps some white American sees as threat because of their skin.


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