Monthly Archives: May 2015

More on Rankine & Diaz

Junot Diaz’s website (info on other writings, appearances, interviews, etc.):

Claudia Rankine bio:

“A Poetry Personal and Political,” (review of Citizen in NYTimes)

“Claudia Rankine’s Citizen” (New Yorker):

On new printings of Citizen, and what changes:

Claudia Rankine – Citizen

The first thing I noticed about how this was written was that it was everyday scenarios that happen to people in real life. I had to reread these sections a couple of times just to make sure that I knew what I was reading.

The scenario that stood out to me the most was the story about the therapist and the patient (18). This is something that happens often to everyone in the world because a lot of the times, a name and a voice don’t match the face. A perfect example is when I thought that Claudia Rankine was a white woman, but I discovered that she was instead Jamaican after reading her bio.

Another scenario that really stood out to me was about the woman whose son didn’t get into college (13). I hate people that think that they have a sense of entitlement when their family went to the same college. Even if they have affirmative action, it doesn’t guarantee that a minority will get into a college just because they’re a minority. Comments like this make me think that as a black young woman, if I did apply to a school that was predominately white for my Master’s degree, would I get in because of my credentials, or just to meet a quota.

The picture of the goat was another thing that stood out to me, not only because it was disturbing, but because it had a picture of a sad black person on it (19). The lamb tends to be a symbol of innocence, but black people are not always innocent because they tend to play the race card when in conflict with white people. Oddly enough, I do feel bad for the white people because just like how all black people are not ghetto, eat fried chicken and drink Kool-Aid, not all white people are racists and have malicious intentions with their actions. It’s just the really racist and hateful ones that mess it up for the whole group.

Overall, there is a struggle on both sides. Do you agree?

More Adrienne Rich Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about Rich, or reading more of her work, the Poetry Foundation’s site has a full biography and bibliography of her work, as well as a few poems we didn’t read:

More poems:

She wrote a number of essays as well–“When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-vision” is on Blackboard. If you want to read more of her poems (many can’t be found online because of copyright), The Fact of a Doorframe is a good place to start, as it collects poems from throughout her career, but I’d be happy to give you more specific recommendations too! (You can find a number of her books in the Baruch library)

“In Camera” by Nawal El Saadawai

Nawal El Saadawi, an Egyptian novelist, is portraying the concept of interdependence in her work “In Camera”, in which she refers to the oppressed woman’s situation within the contemporary Arab-Islamic society. Saadawi tells us the story about Leila Al-Fargani, a young interdependent woman, living in the constrained civilization where she, as all other women, was restricted to participate in political issues, educational learning as well as the labor market. “Her mother always used to say to her: What’s politics got to do with you? You’re not a man. Girls of your age think only about marriage” (1109). The Arabic traditional customs’, in which the male served as the supremacy, rather expected the women to serve “feminine” duties in a form of house- and child care. After expressing her opinions regarding the Presidents norms, which she opposed, Leila is to serve in prison. While imprisoned, Leila becomes the victim of tortures and abuses by groups of men.

Saadawi demonstrates gender discrimination with this story, in which women are relegated to secondary status, and such governmental status quo is still to be found in the current civilization. “Politics is a dirty game which only ineffectual men play” (1109). The patriarchal society questions the power of individuality, and the concern of such gender stereotypes is ignored. The weakened position of women is to be expected, reinforced by, in this case, the Arabic social and cultural norms and therefore, only men had the right to express themselves politically. “Foolishness means that he doesn’t think, that he’s mindless, that he’s an animal. That’s the worst thing you can call an ordinary man. All the more so if he’s a ruler” (1114). The value of women is no more than an expectation of serving as a housewife, and obey and respect her husband. This historical, social concern, yet existing in our contemporary society, is by Saadawai questioning the human rights, and the essential element of freedom in life. The understanding of self is examined, and the concept of interdependence is to characterize this gender discrimination. Such interpretation is clearly demonstrated by Saadawi, who wrote “In Camera” based on her own life experiences from an Arab-Islamic world that “only wanted males”.