Julia wrote a new post, An American Lyric: The Usage of “I” In Rankine’s Last Part, on the site The Arts of Dissent 11 months, 3 weeks ago
For the majority of Claudia Rankine’s literary text, Citizen, it was concluded that the proclaimed American Lyric was not quite the American Lyric due to the fact that the usage of the “I” was lacking. The usage […]
Something that I learned was within what you started saying at the beginning, “was not quite the American Lyric due to the fact that the usage of the “I” was lacking”. In my head I didn’t even know that an American Lyric had to be about the person writing it. When you mentioned this it made me want to research more about it. I find this extremely weird because as you said, the use of “you” is what Rankine is subjected to doing. The use of “I” makes things more intense for the reader. This is because now we are in the author’s shoes and we know this is something that actually happened to her. This was actually very interesting to me because I was getting used to reading her writing from another perspective.
Hey! I really enjoyed reading your observation. I particularly liked when you said “American Lyric was not quite the American Lyric due to the fact that the usage of the “I” was lacking. The usage of “you” is Rankine’s way of taking one group’s struggle in society, and making it more personal to every individual of any group.” This reminded me of when we were reading “A Raisin in the Sun” because it gives readers a general idea of what these particular struggles were like, but it also doesn’t let you forget that the play was written to showcase the struggles of the black community in particular. I find that by using “I” at the end, it reminds readers that although we have been put into so many scenarios throughout the text, we can never really truly understand the pains and struggles of being an African American. Her use of “I” makes it way more personal, and let’s us know that this is something we can never understand to its full extent.
The usage of “you” may be a way of disassociating herself from all of the struggles of living day by day. She fears the encounters she has with people because her race is always somehow brought up or insinuated, so she lets the reader take her place and we experience what she has. She writes at the end ” It wasn’t a match, it was a lesson.” I think it’s a good end because a lesson is an education whereas a match is a contest of one abilities against another. Tennis is a grueling game with no time limit and an umpire is left to decide the course of the match. It could be analogous to how slavery has occurred in America and there are still remnants of it left, even though it is not quite as severe. Rankine wants the reader to feel the pressure of a never ending racist reality that is found in social situations and in America’s institutions and existence itself becomes cumbersome.
Defining what an American lyric is at the beginning of your post in the context of Citizen is interesting. I agree with the use of ‘you’ being to force the reader to empathize with these experiences. When it finally comes down to using ‘I’, the effect is much more powerful. We’ve felt the emotions of having these actions done towards us and now we see how someone else is experiencing the same painful emotions. The writing style in Citizen evokes a massive sense of empathy from the audience. I do think that the use of ‘I’ closes the text and causes us to conclude that there are people around us every day who experience these negative emotions. Citizen increases awareness in a unique way, in having the reader experience these prejudices firsthand.
The use of I utilizes the idea of the self. I believe that use of the word i makes the reader feel like they are apart of the literature. It makes the reader more submerged in the story telling and really hits home the ideas the author is trying to portray. We talked briefly in class the importance of the word you. And in connection with you and I I believe that you is stronger but more complacent. In terms of you it seems as if it can only put the reader in certain plot points while I puts the reader in more different perspectives.
Jesse Green’s theater review of Lorraine Hansberry’s playwright A Raisin in the Sun focused primarily of the presentation of the characters (which so happened to include Denzel Washington, one of my favorites). […]
I love the physical descriptions that come alongside the descriptions of the characters. The question of the ages of the actors and the impact on the overall performance is an interesting one. Does the physical aspect of an actor impact their performance? The thought that this piece of writing can be applied to many immigrant experience is a very true one I think because the feelings that the Youngers have are bred from prejudice which was widespread at the time and can be argued to still be widespread. This review opens many more interpretations of ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ than we see at face value.
A “Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry was written in a period of tension and prejudice. Thus, it is not surprise that a consistent theme in the story circumscribes the idea of “assimilation.” The idea of […]
I really liked how you discuss the contrast of Beneatha’s relationships with George and Agasai and how each relationship affects her wants and desires. George represents white culture and influence, something Beneatha admires because of George’s high education and social status. He represents the “American Dream” during the time as many people sought a successful life with education and money. On the other hand, Agasai represents the African culture as he is more connected to his roots and heritage. The things he says to Beneatha like giving her an African nickname and bringing her a Nigerian dress help Beneatha to stay true to her identity and to not be so caught up in the white culture. As you mention in your post, “Beneatha is also quite conflicted because on the one hand Asagai helps her embrace her heritage but on the other hand she is still seeing George and is allured by his education and wealth.” I think this an important issue you bring up because it shows how she wants to stay grounded in her African heritage and culture yet she desires the “American Dream” of being highly educated and earning a substantial amount of money. I am sure many people during this time were conflicted with this situaction as many yearned to create a successful and acceptable lifestyle that leaned towards the standards of white culture yet did not want to fall too deep into it because they felt staying true to their roots was a way of representing their identity. To answer your question, I think I would also be stuck in Beneatha’s situaction. I would want to create a succesful life for myself with money and education and admire those who had it yet at the same time, I would also want to stay true to my identity. I love and respect my culture being Chinese, and would never want to lose my identity because it makes me who I am today. I too, have assimilated being a minority growing up in a neighborhood that was predominately white. I would try and understand my culture and my heritage because it was something that was important to be and allowed me to have more respect for my culture and create a form of identity and uniqueness for myself.
Hey Julia, I loved how you discussed the cultural difference between the characters. I feel like the idea of assimilation is what America is all about Back in those times being black wasn’t something that was considered to be “cool” so people had to find ways to fit in by oppressing there own culture. That’s why being black and wealthy during those time made you socially accepted by other cultures but looking like a “sell out” to your own black culture. I feel like Benetha feels like George is a sell out for conforming but I find it interesting that she still continues to hang out with him even though she feels that way. Doesn’t that make her a assimilationist negro too ?
One line that really clicked with me, was when Benetha said ” How can something that is natural be eccentric” ( pg 80). This line stuck out to me because I feel like being natural is being you at its purest form and being eccentric is being someone different. Benetha is just trying to be who she is and just because it isn’t the norm it is consider “eccentric”. This question that Benetha asked is relatable to anyone who struggling with who they are and who people want them to be.
Julia, just to point out that I agree with your idea that Beneatha does want to represent her culture and heritage. You made a really good point when you say, “Beneatha fights on this idea of embracing their heritage with George and Walter”. I didn’t realize that until I read your post. She does in fact start to appreciate more the culture when Agasai brings her a Nigerian dress. As well as accepting her culture she still wants to remain “modern” and tries to fit in with George. I liked how you connected the two, where she has to balance both cultures. If I can imagine myself during that time, I would be in the same position as Beneatha, trying to maintain both cultures.
I probably would not try to fully assimilate if I was growing up back then. I would try to balance both American and African ideals that I would carry with me into my life and try to enrich the lives of others around me. It is important to expose people to different cultural customs and music because it changes the negative connotations that they associate with the culture and can influence them creatively throughout their life. We see a lot of the characters succumbing to the pressures of society like Walter and George, who generalize African culture in a very negative way because they have fully immerse themselves in Western ideals. Even in the present day, it is hard not to succumb to societal pressures because you cannot escape it if you are socially active or use the internet often. We are bombarded with images of friends and family showcasing their best selves and it evokes feelings of envy that can be toxic in one’s life. I can relate to how Walter feels because he is trying his hardest to succeed and is not getting the reward he wants. Everyone in the Younger family wants to move in separate directions when they really should be communicate more openly with each other.
Whether we want to assimilate or not is not up to the individual, or rather I should say society creates what the individual wants us to become rather then what we feel we should be. You stated that Walter acts like a white man which is why he talks and behaves like that of the opposite culture. In that time people had he option of choosing what they want to become. Why his is a rather innovating novel on race, it is important to compare it to our time and think are we acting no different. In a time where we learn of these upcoming genders. We are not forcing people to think that they are these zed, etc but we create this idea, this Ideology that you are gonna be the real you, help bring upon this uniqueness. Different times, means a different society where we show people that they can be different. So are they really assimilating or are they just choosing a different scope in reality that they wish to define themselves by. Hmmmmm the possibilities .
Hey Julia, I think you did an excellent job at bringing attention to the contrast in culture between Agasai and George. While reading, I myself found that to be very key in the storyline. I don’t think that George is trying to assimilate himself into the “white” culture on purpose, but I can see why Beneatha finds it offensive. I like that you pointed out the quote “someone who is willing to give up his own culture and submerge himself completely in the dominant, and in this case oppressive culture!” because this is something that is still so relatable to this day and age. I think no matter where you’re from, you will find yourself trying to conform to whatever the dominant culture is within your confines. There are definitely times where people try to dress, talk and behave a certain way with their peers in order to fit in more because they may be ashamed and embarrassed to act the way they do at home. As much as it’s embarrassing sometimes to share certain aspects of your life, I think it’s fair to say that at the end of the day, this is who you are, and you should embrace it no matter what. I think that’s why Beneatha was trying to hard to embrace her culture. She wants to make a statement that she is proud to be who she is, and no amount of money and “white washed” education can change her from knowing who she is.
We all assimilate. Whether we acknowledge it or whether we want to or not. I’m from Los Angeles, and I’ve always owned a car, I moved to New York and everyone told me “you don’t need a car” so I left it in LA. I take the subway (begrudgingly), I wear what feels like ski clothes everyday to avoid freezing to death, and all of a sudden to describe something of extreme importance I find myself saying phrases in LA I would never say. Mad crazy. I have begun assimilating to New York. During the 1950’s, being black in America wasn’t only difficult it was seemingly dangerous. As an African American you were told where to live and how to live, you lived life with a constant reminders of where you were allowed and weren’t allowed to go, for example: “Colored Bathroom Only” or “Colored Waiting Room”. Jim Crow laws, which were laws passed from the end of reconstruction to the beginning of the civil rights movement were laws that legalized segregation. One can only imagine this kind of severe separation and institutionalized hate, the government literally legalized the ability for white Americans to believe their superiority. So if I have to be in honest, for the sake of my own safety and that of my family yes I would’ve assimilated. Yet there is another way of looking at this, and I think Laurianne Hansberry wants the reader to see this point of view as well, as African Americans was there really a choice? Do you know you’re assimilating if this is all you know? Beneatha, as I see it, isn’t fighting against assimilation, (because as African Americans you literally know nothing else but American culture) she’s searching to discover another part of her identity. Agasai is the catalyst to help her in doing this and George is representative of the other end of the spectrum, a black man educated and raised in America, and for some reason every picture of George or portrayal I have seen he is light in skin tone. I feel you are correct in your assessment that “The contrast between George and Agasai revolves around the issues in the 1950’s.” True enough, there was a real divide in how black people viewed themselves and saw themselves in the future, and Beneatha is a pivotal character in starting that discussion.
I really enjoyed the contrast you constructed here between George and Agasai. During these times, it was most likely rare to see a well substained African and African American, who embraces their culture. African Americans were still recovering from the aftermath of slavery and segregation, therfore building their own identity may have seem absurd and even impossible. They’ve witnessed generations of people telling them that their African roots were savaged and disgusting. Their culture was brutally beatened out of them. That’s why I’m not surprised of George’s characteristics because he’s a product of this assimilated environment. His parents probably enforced this way of life upon him with words like, “If you want to be a successful and black, you can’t wear this and you can’t talk like that or, those white folks will bash you like they did when we were your age.” It’s evident that George doesn’t want to be a stereotyped based off his characteristics in the play and, the way he reacted to Bennie’s hair. Whereas, Agassi is the complete opposite of George. He’s aware of his roots because he’s from Africa and experience Africa before the America’s. His black pride is well worn and, he’s knowledgeable of the Western ways, in regards to black folks. In fact, so far he’s my favorite character because it seems that he brings light to the Younger family. He’s sort of like a savior for Bennie, as he’s filling up the gap between Africa and slavery in the America’s. I love when you stated, “He makes it clear that in order to find herself she must grasp and further learn about her African identity. Beneatha wishes to only succumb to the White influenced American lifestyle in terms of education and turns to Agasai to keep her own culture as a part of herself.” You hit it right on the nail. As stated before, I completely with your statement. In regards to your question, I believe at a time like this, assimilation would be enforced because of all of the things I stated before. Black folks just came out of slavery where, they spent years being traumatized for being black. For your second question, I did assimilate before during high school. Due to the media and certain experiences, I wa sub-consciously ashamed of being black at one point. For instance, I wanted long straight hair because I was teased once for my curly hair.
Hey all! My name is Julia Iskhakova and my career passions are teeth and books. I am an English major but am also pre-dental. Much of my youth the study medicine has always captured my attention, but so did books. […]
Hey Julia! I appreciate your artifact as I also chose a song that I felt expressed dissent. Both of our posts deal with music that express dissent however they are both extremely different pieces of art. With reviewing both of our posts I think it is fair to say that dissent is a widespread concept throughout the arts and can be expressed in many different ways. Even though I decided to use a song that could be described as ‘heavy metal’ and you chose a song that fits into the genre of ‘rap’ they both accurately expressed their dissent with the state of the country.
Hi Julia! The song you chose is a classic! this song truly does express “the art of dissent” because of the fact that it is trying to be the voice for the things such as ‘violence and poverty’ as you listed, through music and what better way to reach out to the people then through music? more specifically ‘rap’. You also said “Through the context of this rap, the listener gets a better comprehension of the difficulties the music group is trying to illustrate both through the lyrics as well as the tone” and that is def. something that I agree with because I can say that I experience those feelings when listening to this song.