Articles and Essays, Happs!, Reviews, Words & Works of Others

Urgent Recommendation: Claudia Rankine’s CITIZEN

CITIZEN: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Not racist? Hear, listen, and grasp social and race issues with the renowned author, playwright, and poet. “I don’t think we connect micro-aggressions that indicate the lack of recognition of the black body as a body to the creation and enforcement of laws.” Claudia Rankine said last fall in BOMB.
Wait, what’s a “microaggression”?? These words matter.
CITIZEN: An American Lyric divulges and dissects day-to-day, often sub-surface racism and its effects beyond the moment. Her fifth poetry book, it made history, nominated for two National Book Critics Circle Awards, for Criticism and for Poetry; it won the latter, along with the NAACP Image Award, PEN Open Book Award, and others, and is the only New York Times nonfiction bestseller of its lyric kind.
CITIZEN calls out in solidarity if you’ve ever been run into by an armored tank of racial marginalization or been caught in a nasty traffic jam of intersectionality. Rankine calls you to action if you give a hoot or are susceptible to participating in systemic racism. Cultural theorist Lauren Berlant described in the BOMB interview, “Citizenship involves metabolizing in the language of your flesh what you call the ‘ordinary’ injury of racist encounter.” Rankine’s prose details scene by the millisecond, along with internal reaction, piling on inevitable, immediate, smacking social resonance in fell swoop after fell swoop. Each scene rounds out with that “metabolizing” as it happens, or as its consequence plays out within black bodies and minds constrained by white hegemony and apathy.
Los Angeles’ Fountain Theater produced an adaptation in August, spotlighting the versatility of CITIZEN and Rankine’s multi-form and -genre work. Her dialogue and descriptions came to life on stage particularly smoothly: The ensemble cast rove among different characters, black actors facing white actors, playing out scenes of surprise verbal, contextual complicity or attack and slow-motion, time-stopped response, outburst, or restraint. Sitting, watching in your red theater seat became complacency; cringing and squirming in it were not enough.
In interactions of daily and professional life, how can white people stop colluding to enact racism, even if unintentionally? How can all people not commit and not accept racial microaggression? Recognition of such words and acts is a start.

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Articles and Essays, Ruffled Draft, Works in Progress

What Does an Assault Victim Look Like? What Does Her Assailant Look Like?

“Cops Beat & Kidnap 12-yo Girl in Front of her Home, Claiming She was a Prostitute” (Story: http://bit.ly/1BE3j1F) Response

#doyougetityet  They always do this: Involved officers charge their victim with assault and/or interfering with official acts, in order to cover up their crime and violence and to make the person, or, here, her family, being that she is a young minor, go through and be stuck in a difficult, time-consuming, financially devastating, mentally and emotionally burdensome and even traumatic court case to “distract” her/them from being able to speak up about what was done to herself or themselves as victims (on top of, of course, going through the physical pain often to the point of medical injury, hospitalization, and/or continuous or permanent physical pain or limitation in the first place, and mental anguish also caused by the violence).  It deters focus, and legal focus, from and uses up resources needed for dealing with the actual victimhood, violence and/or injury, It is a COMMON LEGAL STRATEGY, initiated as protocol at the time of “incident,” i.e. victimization by officers or within the time frame of finishing and filing reports and charges.

Keep in mind a pending case is limiting in itself to the point of functionally injurious, often with long-lasting or permanent effect.  While the case against the 12-year-old or any such victim is ongoing, her or her family’s or any victim’s legal record prominently reads “pending case” of “pending charge,” and no matter the circumstance or physical violence she or her family or someone is suffering as a victim, and no matter how obvious to the common person or professional those physical injuries, the victimization, the absurdity of the situation, socially, professionally, and legally one is with pox, rights nixed, opportunities beaten away too by the baton and legal follow-up. …Including for some representation: attorneys, firms, Bar Association referral program participants, some legal aid (including actual area Legal Aid organizations or free or reduced-cost lawyers [legal advice providers] or attorneys [who represent in court]), or that rarity, pro-bono retaining,…are no longer an option for the victim; all of the above professionals, type of organization/agency, and lawyers normally participating in such programs or retaining arrangements…often won’t touch such a case with a ten foot pole. #doyougetityet

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Articles and Essays, Ruffled Draft, Works in Progress

On Crack

Boom, [Crack, / ya think you’re all that], / the Beat goes On / and on and on and on and on.”  I had this neighbor friend  in Albuquerque–yes, in the Bad-lands of Bryan Cranston and gang–whom I had to rescue from the throes of a seizure he was on from crack, and might have died from.  He lay there sprawled in the hall, a seemly smell escaping his apartment, and barely croaking my name out of his throat. He was wearing underwear; I think even tightey-whiteys just like in the show. His eyes were sunken in, and purple, and looked like a raccoon’s–I mean, literally, looked like a raccoon’s.  Glassy, beady, darting alllll crazy! Then I realized the smell was coming from him. He shook and convulsed, and tried to get up to step the one single step from his door that was perpendicular to mine to knock on my door. He couldn’t. He fell in jerky slow-mo half-in, half-out of his apartment, smacking himself against the door and the dirty hallway floor as he seized, straightening out–only his fucked up muscles and nervous system, mind you, not his life–in seizure after seizure that he was fully awake for, aware of losing control and his muscles tightening up so stiffly he smacked his body on whatever was available, and couldn’t stop it. He tried to look at me and talk to me through the seizures. Y’know, between when his eyes were rolling back up in his head so that I could only see the whites, like he were some evil zombie ghost from a movie.
Now, I had a friend who had epilepsy in college. She drank too much and that’s what gave her the seizures, nine times out of ten.  But this was different….
Since he didn’t have epilepsy, there wasn’t a somewhat predictable broken, sizzling neuropathway that the crack sent his body’s electricity on.
. . .

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