Claudia Rankine’s Citizen changed the conversation—Just Us urges all of us into it
As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history.
Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, even and especially in breaching the silence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses of whiteness. Rankine’s questions disrupt the false comfort of our culture’s liminal and private spaces—the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth—where neutrality and politeness live on the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices as our public and private lives intersect.
This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includes the voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first class responding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend’s explanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and women confronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complements Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word.
Sometimes wry, often vulnerable, and always prescient, Just Us is Rankine’s most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, being together.
Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, and playwright. Just Us completes her groundbreaking trilogy, following Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen. She is a MacArthur Fellow and teaches at Yale University.
Roxanne J. Coady founded RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, Connecticut in 1989, creating a business that is recognized as a national leader among independent booksellers. In 2009, Coady founded a personalized book subscription site, Just the Right Book. This site has a national reach and combines the intimacy of an independent bookstore with the digital marketplace. In addition, Coady hosts a weekly podcast available on iTunes, Just the Right Book, in which she interviews best-selling authors and people in the bookselling and publishing community.
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