Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’

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Post by Guest on Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:11 am

First topic message reminder :

The award-winning poet on Serena Williams, her emotional book signings and why racism is inescapable

Your book, Citizen: An American Lyric, has won the National Book Critics’ Circle poetry award in the US, the Forward in the UK and is shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize. It exposes racism in the US at its most violent and at its most nuanced. Why the title?
I called it Citizen because I wanted to ask: who gets to hold that status – despite everyone technically having it? How is it embodied and honoured? The title contains a question.

What the book does most powerfully is to make it clear that racism is everyone’s problem.
Racism is complicated. White people feel personally responsible for racism when they should understand the problem as systemic. It is interfering as much with their lives as with the lives of people of colour. And racism can lodge in them. It isn’t them yet it can become them if they are not taking notice.

Does the subject sometimes feel a burden to write about?
For me, this will sound odd. I find it interesting to look at language itself and think about what language can do. Language reveals something that happens so fast. It is language that pulls moments into their reality. And for readers – for people of colour – they have said they find it cathartic to have moments that they have kept to themselves openly written about.

Is there a denial of racism among black people?
I don’t think black people are in denial. They just need to lead their lives. They are going to shut things up and there will be repression. I include myself in that.

I find it interesting to look at language itself and think about what language can do
The book is much more than autobiographical. How many people did you interview in preparation for writing?
It was a loose anthropological exercise [laughter]. I spoke to my friends! About 25 people, black and white.

Has Serena Williams read or responded to the piece in Citizen in which you champion her?
Well, do you know what has just happened? Apparently, Serena Williams is [Sports Illustrated’s] athlete of the year and the LA Times has put out a cover to its sports magazine asking the question: does Serena Williams deserves sportsperson of the year more than a horse? [Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh is the horse in question.] As one of my friends protested: this is the same paper that made Citizen one of its books of the year. And, yes, Serena has seen what I wrote about her. I interviewed her for the New York Times in August. I took her willingness to be interviewed as a sign of approval.

“Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” What was in your mind when you wrote that line?
When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.

Why is it so hard to call out racism?
Because making other people uncomfortable is thought worse than racism. It has taken me a while to train myself to speak out.

You make “situation videos” with your husband, John Lucas, using news stories, to illustrate your poems dynamically…
Yes – have you seen the recent video in Clinton correctional facility where guards refer to a black prisoner’s “non-compliant” body? He is non-compliant because he is dead.

You quote a friend of yours who said: “The condition of black life is one of mourning.” Do you agree?
Yes, I would agree, although black culture is also alive and vibrant.

You have a daughter – how do you arm her against racism?
It is important black parents are on guard against self-hatred, which gets communicated to children. We talk about racism but my daughter gets sick of it and rolls her eyes…


You were born in Jamaica. Do you define yourself through it? Do you feel pride in being black? Or is that a racist question – I’d find it absurd if anyone asked me whether I have pride in being white…
It is not a question I would ask. It is like asking: do you feel a pride in being human? I am a black person, it has made me into the person I am. I grew up with Jamaican parents and came here when I was seven. My parents came to the US, as all immigrants do, for economic betterment. We lived in the Bronx. My parents worked as hospital orderlies. I know it’s not the image people have of the Bronx but we had a comfortable, regular working-class life.


How did this lead to becoming a writer?
I went to Williams College, a fantastic liberal arts school. I started writing in my sophomore year after reading the poet Adrienne Rich and thinking: this is almost right but does not quite say what I want to say…

How often in your life in southern California does racism impinge on you?
I have had a privileged life in academia. But racism is inescapable, even among well-educated, questioning people.

You have mentioned walking in the mountains with your dog, Sammy. Is that your escape when you are not on the literary frontline?
I am considering walking in the mountains this afternoon, but don’t see it as an escape. Walking is slow, meditative.

You have talked about an incident at an airport where you were travelling with your husband, who is white. You were stopped and you said: “I am being racially profiled.” Why did they stop you?
You can’t know – but they stopped me. Then they said: “Go.” No explanation. When I said: “I’m being racially profiled”, the official asked: “Why are you saying that?” And he did look chagrined.

In a New Yorker article you wrote: “There really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed simply for being black.” What is needed if empathy is useless?
I’m not saying that anything can be enough. Empathy is not a cure.

What’s the most surprising reaction to your book been so far?
The initial embrace of the book was surprising. You don’t know if two people will read it. And to have people come out in force… The most surprising thing has been the number of Asian women who have come up to me at book signings with tears in their eyes to say: this is my life you’re writing.

Citizen: An American Lyric is published by Penguin (£9.99). Click here to order a copy for £7.99

More interviews Topics



Your book, Citizen: An American Lyric, has won the National Book Critics’ Circle poetry award in the US, the Forward in the UK and is shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize. It exposes racism in the US at its most violent and at its most nuanced. Why the title?
I called it Citizen because I wanted to ask: who gets to hold that status – despite everyone technically having it? How is it embodied and honoured? The title contains a question.

What the book does most powerfully is to make it clear that racism is everyone’s problem.
Racism is complicated. White people feel personally responsible for racism when they should understand the problem as systemic. It is interfering as much with their lives as with the lives of people of colour. And racism can lodge in them. It isn’t them yet it can become them if they are not taking notice.

Does the subject sometimes feel a burden to write about?
For me, this will sound odd. I find it interesting to look at language itself and think about what language can do. Language reveals something that happens so fast. It is language that pulls moments into their reality. And for readers – for people of colour – they have said they find it cathartic to have moments that they have kept to themselves openly written about.

Is there a denial of racism among black people?
I don’t think black people are in denial. They just need to lead their lives. They are going to shut things up and there will be repression. I include myself in that.

I find it interesting to look at language itself and think about what language can do
The book is much more than autobiographical. How many people did you interview in preparation for writing?
It was a loose anthropological exercise [laughter]. I spoke to my friends! About 25 people, black and white.

Has Serena Williams read or responded to the piece in Citizen in which you champion her?
Well, do you know what has just happened? Apparently, Serena Williams is [Sports Illustrated’s] athlete of the year and the LA Times has put out a cover to its sports magazine asking the question: does Serena Williams deserves sportsperson of the year more than a horse? [Kentucky Derby winner American Pharaoh is the horse in question.] As one of my friends protested: this is the same paper that made Citizen one of its books of the year. And, yes, Serena has seen what I wrote about her. I interviewed her for the New York Times in August. I took her willingness to be interviewed as a sign of approval.

“Because white men can’t/ police their imagination/ black men are dying.” What was in your mind when you wrote that line?
When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.

Why is it so hard to call out racism?
Because making other people uncomfortable is thought worse than racism. It has taken me a while to train myself to speak out.

You make “situation videos” with your husband, John Lucas, using news stories, to illustrate your poems dynamically…
Yes – have you seen the recent video in Clinton correctional facility where guards refer to a black prisoner’s “non-compliant” body? He is non-compliant because he is dead.

You quote a friend of yours who said: “The condition of black life is one of mourning.” Do you agree?
Yes, I would agree, although black culture is also alive and vibrant.

You have a daughter – how do you arm her against racism?
It is important black parents are on guard against self-hatred, which gets communicated to children. We talk about racism but my daughter gets sick of it and rolls her eyes…

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine review – the ugly truth of racism
Claudia Rankine challenges the reader to question their own assumptions about race
Read more
You were born in Jamaica. Do you define yourself through it? Do you feel pride in being black? Or is that a racist question – I’d find it absurd if anyone asked me whether I have pride in being white…
It is not a question I would ask. It is like asking: do you feel a pride in being human? I am a black person, it has made me into the person I am. I grew up with Jamaican parents and came here when I was seven. My parents came to the US, as all immigrants do, for economic betterment. We lived in the Bronx. My parents worked as hospital orderlies. I know it’s not the image people have of the Bronx but we had a comfortable, regular working-class life.

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How did this lead to becoming a writer?
I went to Williams College, a fantastic liberal arts school. I started writing in my sophomore year after reading the poet Adrienne Rich and thinking: this is almost right but does not quite say what I want to say…

How often in your life in southern California does racism impinge on you?
I have had a privileged life in academia. But racism is inescapable, even among well-educated, questioning people.

You have mentioned walking in the mountains with your dog, Sammy. Is that your escape when you are not on the literary frontline?
I am considering walking in the mountains this afternoon, but don’t see it as an escape. Walking is slow, meditative.

You have talked about an incident at an airport where you were travelling with your husband, who is white. You were stopped and you said: “I am being racially profiled.” Why did they stop you?
You can’t know – but they stopped me. Then they said: “Go.” No explanation. When I said: “I’m being racially profiled”, the official asked: “Why are you saying that?” And he did look chagrined.


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In a New Yorker article you wrote: “There really is no mode of empathy that can replicate the daily strain of knowing that as a black person you can be killed simply for being black.” What is needed if empathy is useless?
I’m not saying that anything can be enough. Empathy is not a cure.

What’s the most surprising reaction to your book been so far?
The initial embrace of the book was surprising. You don’t know if two people will read it. And to have people come out in force… The most surprising thing has been the number of Asian women who have come up to me at book signings with tears in their eyes to say: this is my life you’re writing.

Citizen: An American Lyric is published by Penguin (£9.99). Click here to order a copy for £7.99

More interviews Topics



http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/27/claudia-rankine-poet-citizen-american-lyric-feature



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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:34 am

veya_victaous wrote:
Raggamuffin wrote:

Of course the UK is progressive. As I said, if it wasn't for the British you wouldn't be in Australia now. You Aussies benefited from the UK, and it's time you realised that. Instead of demanding that British citizens in the UK pay for your crimes, you should be paying us for all the benefits you gained.



 

Moron I am ALREADY Paying for your crimes that paid for the infrastructure YOU use and I have never even seen!!!!!
 
No we have not benefited as Much as England did that treated most early Australians like slaves.
AND You should be paying all the other nations You also Raped.

As Said Previously Australia Has money we are already going to look after the indigenous people here that suffered as we are partially responsible

But there is a bunch of other nations ALL of them RAPED by YOU and you don't want to help any of them Because you are just a scumbag piece of shit, that is simple as that no different than anyone that doesn’t want to pay for the goods and services they have consumed and expect other less fortunate than themselves to pay. 

ALL British taxpayer should pay towards reparation like all Australians pay towards repatriations. The fact you not only don’t but are so selfish argue against PROVES that You are not a kind progressive nation At all. Stuff your propaganda where the sun don’t shine You and didge PROVE it to be LIES  

You're paying for your own crimes. You're the one who benefited from your relatives going to Australia and taking advantage, so blame them if you resent paying money to Aborigines - not that I've seen any evidence that you pay them anything.

If it wasn't for the British you wouldn't be there, or you'd be living in the bush with the kangaroos. You need to have some gratitude to the British who built up Australia so that you could have a life there. You're just a very ungrateful little bigot.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:36 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:
nicko wrote:Sounds like Veya has lost it,     heart attack, stroke,  mental breakdown.   So puffed up with his own importance.  I imagine him red faced and fuming pounding the keyboard with angry words and capitals.

Cupid Stunt.

Veya makes more sense than the rest of you combined, because he argues with perspective, something the rest of you completely lack.

No he doesn't - he argues from a racist standpoint whereby he hates the English so he'll find something to blame them for. That's why his arguments are totally illogical. You must also hate the English if you don't find his arguments bigoted and illogical.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:38 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:
nicko wrote:Veya is a racist, a bit like you are!
You have proved several times,  that like Veya you don't like the Brits!

I love old JK, the Beatles, Stephen Moffat, etc. I will never take the side of any oppressive government, however, and the UK has been one of the most oppressive the world has ever seen.

You hate your own country then I presume. Maybe you should go and live in a poor country so you can feel even more superior.

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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:56 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:
Didge wrote:


So what if they inherit nothing, does that get them off the hook in your book for crimes committed centuries ago?

The governments are responsible for such payments to wrongs done in the past

Yes people benefit from a society they are born into, but they have committed no wrong, yet you wish to stain them in the blood of the past, which is also wrong

But now we're hitting at the heart of the problem. If you inherit a large sum from your parents, should you not also inherit any wrongdoing that was done to acquire that wealth? If not, why not?

If my mother stole all your money and valuables, and wasn't caught before she died, should I be allowed to inherit it, invest it, build on it and pass it on to my own children?

I'm really struggling to understand your logic here.    In that case, all Americans should pay forever for the sins of the Winchester repeating rifle and the death, decimation and theft of land of the Native Americans because they have all benefited from aforementioned crimes on humanity.
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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:00 am

veya_victaous wrote:pretty much correct, we could still be over ruled by the house of lords and the UK threatened to leave us unprotected if we did anything about it.
That is until PM John Curtain in WW2 made an alliance with the USA Primarily to defend the Pacific which removed the reliance on England for military support allow Australians to actually put the treatment of aboriginals to the vote, the first time it went to the vote the British Lords Got Kicked in favour of the giving the aboriginals back some of the their land.


and there has been consistent increases in the reparations for the Crimes of the British empire

If not for the British, no Australians would be living there.   Your rather daft logic is cherry picking the facts.
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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:05 am

veya_victaous wrote:
Didge wrote:And how often did the House of Lords over rule countless Australian decisions?

Its no good deflecting blame all the time Veya, Aussies have done countless wrongs to the Aboriginals

I think you need to start recognizing that the buck stops with the Aussie Government to look out for the Aboriginies


multiple times I couldn’t tell you as we didn’t have a right to know under the old system imposed by the UK, we had to break because Churchill was demanding we leave Australia completely undefended and come save Britain and would have the legal power to do so had Curtain not passed several key pieces of legislation

And yes it does, which shows that the Further we have moved away for the UK Politically the nicer kinder and more reasonable we have become Plus the More compensation we are willing to give the Aboriginals people for the crimes of the British empire.

“My people die young in this country. We die 10 years younger than the average Australian, and we are far from free. We are fewer than 3% of the Australian population and yet we are 25% – one quarter – of those Australians locked up in our prisons. And if you’re a juvenile it is worse, it is 50%. An Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school."
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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:09 am

It's amazing how colonial types like Ben and Veya manage to blame everyone but their own ancestors? Mind you, they're lefties, and lefties always look around for someone else to blame - it's the first thing they do when something goes wrong for them.

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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:19 am

veya_victaous wrote:pretty much correct, we could still be over ruled by the house of lords and the UK threatened to leave us unprotected if we did anything about it.
That is until PM John Curtain in WW2 made an alliance with the USA Primarily to defend the Pacific which removed the reliance on England for military support allow Australians to actually put the treatment of aboriginals to the vote, the first time it went to the vote the British Lords Got Kicked in favour of the giving the aboriginals back some of the their land.


and there has been consistent increases in the reparations for the Crimes of the British empire

Oh bollocks!   Each of you were individually responsible for any cruelties and racism.   They abolished slavery in the States but that didn't stop the racism.
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Post by nicko on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:24 am

Seem to remember something about Australians taking in hundreds of orphans who were treated as slaves and sex objects by some who took them in.
any one know anything about this?
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Post by nicko on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:26 am

Perhaps Didge can find something about this.
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Post by nicko on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:26 am

Perhaps Didge can find something about this.
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Post by Guest on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:31 am

nicko wrote:Seem to remember something about Australians taking in hundreds of orphans who were treated as slaves and sex objects by some who took them in.
any one know anything about this?

Morning Nicko

This?

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/nov/15/apology-child-migrants-gordon-brown

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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:43 am

nicko wrote:Seem to remember something about Australians taking in hundreds of orphans who were treated as slaves and sex objects by some who took them in.
any one know anything about this?

Do you mean Aborigine children? They call it the stolen generations.

http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-stolen-generations




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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:02 am

Raggamuffin wrote:
nicko wrote:Seem to remember something about Australians taking in hundreds of orphans who were treated as slaves and sex objects by some who took them in.
any one know anything about this?

Do you mean Aborigine children? They call it the stolen generations.

http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-stolen-generations



http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/a-guide-to-australias-stolen-generations#toc0
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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:03 am

And it's still going on today.

In 2012, Olga Havnen, a senior Northern Territory government official, revealed that more than $80m was spent on the surveillance of families and the removal of children compared with just $500,000 on supporting the same impoverished families. Her warning of a second Stolen Generation led to her sacking. [41]
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Post by nicko on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:09 am

Come on Veya, what you got to say about this?

Bet his too embarrassed to admit to this.

Wonder if any of his ancesters were involved?
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Post by HoratioTarr on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:11 am

nicko wrote:Come on Veya,   what you got to say about this?

Bet his too embarrassed to admit to this.

Wonder if any of his ancesters were involved?

If so, and by his own advice, he should be on his knees sucking Abo dick.
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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:16 am

One has to be careful not to automatically assume that children were stolen for nefarious reasons of course. Children are removed from their parents in the UK too - if they're considered to be at risk.

No doubt Veya will try to blame English people living in the UK who never set foot in Australia, and whose ancestors never set foot there either.

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Post by Raggamuffin on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:19 am

I also gather that the Australian Government refused to apologise until 2008, and that they are still resisting attempts to claim compensation. I'm not going to make a judgement about that, but it does make a mockery of Veya's claim that Australians are falling over themselves to pay for their "crimes".

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Post by nicko on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:40 am

Veya is very quite about this.
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Post by veya_victaous on Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:53 pm

nicko wrote:Veya is very quite about this.

Since when Am I online during the night here Suspect Suspect Suspect

Now that i have returned.... Of Course You all know that was CHRISTIANS yes dirty filthy Catholic and Church of ENGLAND missionaries
resoponsible for both.

And no, my mother side, the only part here long enough for that, is convict decent mainly irish and welsh from a very poor and 'bad' part of sydney, all million dollar houses there now but my granddad used to tell us about the bodies with throats slashed in the river. Big Horse racing area in the day a lot of gambling. it is fair to say they were low class and not involved in decision making.

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Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’ - Page 5 Empty Re: Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’

Post by nicko on Wed Mar 02, 2016 5:30 am

Veya, you have been "rinsed" There are, and have been some nasty bastards in Australia. So lets have no more complaining about what the Brits did.LOOK TO YOUR OWN, AND DON'T BE SUCH A HYPOCRIT!
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Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’ - Page 5 Empty Re: Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’

Post by Guest on Wed Mar 02, 2016 7:49 am

veya_victaous wrote:
nicko wrote:Veya is very quite about this.

Since when Am I online during the night here Suspect Suspect Suspect

Now that i have returned.... Of Course You all know that was CHRISTIANS yes dirty filthy Catholic and Church of ENGLAND missionaries
resoponsible for both.

And no, my mother side, the only part here long enough for that, is convict decent mainly irish and welsh from a very poor and 'bad' part of sydney, all million dollar houses there now but my granddad used to tell us about the bodies with throats slashed in the river. Big Horse racing area in the day a lot of gambling. it is fair to say they were low class and not involved in decision making.



What you lack is the ability to understand others

I can see both sides of many things, even if I rail off at people at times

With you and the likes of Ben and others you hold some backward belief that only your leftist views are the right way and fail to learn or work with people for what is better for for the good of everyone. Sometimes that means making tough choices, but what you both fail to understand is that you cannot make the world better viewing others as inferior to you based on your beliefs. That just further divides people and does nothing to show the wisdom or enlightenment of a what is best for us all. At the end of the day we are all humans, the only thing that makes us different visually is negligible, in that we are all fundamentally one biological race and we learn from others who lets be honest only a few innovative people have helped advance our understandings in life. We are in the vast majority all plagiarists to the ideas and views of others, but one thing we should all strive for is harmony and coexistence. Which will never be achieved without cooperation. You lead by example, not show an example is not something to be lead by.

Think about that.

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Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’ - Page 5 Empty Re: Claudia Rankine: ‘Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people’

Post by eddie on Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:58 am

Veya thinks everyone is a racist including me.
I think he's a little misguided

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Post by nicko on Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:57 am

jUST A little Eddie? That's an under statement.
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Post by eddie on Wed Mar 02, 2016 12:01 pm

nicko wrote:jUST A little Eddie?    That's an under statement.


lol!

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