Citizen: An American Lyric


The book consists of seven chapters interspersed with images and artworks. The first chapter details microagressions that have occurred to Rankine and her friends. The second chapter discusses the YouTube character Hennessy Youngman created by Jayson Musson, and discusses racial incidents in the life of Serena Williams and her public image. The third chapter features more microagressions and the nature of racist language. In the fourth chapter Rankine writes of the transition of sighs into aches, the nature of language, memory, and watching tennis matches in silence. Chapter five is a complex poem on self-identity, interspersed with more microagressions. Chapter six is a series of scripts for "situation videos" created in collaboration with John Lucas on Hurricane Katrina, the shootings of Trayvon Martin and James Craig Anderson, the Jena Six, the 2011 England riots in the wake of the death of Mark Duggan, Stop-and-frisk, Zinedine Zidane's headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, and the verbal error during Barack Obama's first inauguration as President of the United States. The seventh chapter ends with "Making Room", a script for a "public fiction" about finding a seat on the subway, and a list of African-American men involved in recent police shooting incidents that concludes with the phrase "because white men can't police their imagination black men are dying". The seventh chapter is a complex meditation on race, the body, language and various incidents in the life of the author. The book is interspersed with images of various paintings, drawings, sculptures and screen grabs.

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