• “Stop n Frisk” is an NYPD policy wherein police will detain and question pedestrians and potentially search them, if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the pedestrian in question’ “committed is committing […]

    • The frustration and vulnerability I felt reading that particular section of Citizen gave me chills as well. I remember when I was pulled over for no apparent reason on a Wednesday evening on my way home from school. It was from that day on I feared the police and although I respect them, I attempt to avoid them in order to avoid any further conflict. Having family members who are police officers, I always looked up to them, but after reading Citizen, and listening to other testimonies about a police officer who has gone too far, it pinches a nerve and I don’t feel safe or respected; the same way many other men and women feel. When Rankine states, “I stood naked” (109). I don’t think it was only intended to be physical without clothing, but the naked feeling the character felt as well. Not only were they stripped of their rights but stripped of them being human. This section of Citizen gave me chills because I too remember being exposed and feeling uncomfortable in order for the police officer to feel in charge. Although there are good intentions for stop and frisk, it is something that is still abused to this day.

      • I really liked your blog post because it’s something I could definitely relate to. I really liked the part where you quoted, “Why am I pulled over?”, this is something frequently asked all the time by drivers. From experience I get pulled over a lot because of the cars I drive. I use my boyfriends cars which are expensive and the cops pull me over just to check who’s driving and if I’m not a drug dealer or the owner. It’s annoying because why can’t someone have hard worked money and use it on what they like, but no instead someone has to be doing something illegal in order to have nice things. I’m so used to it that when they do stop me I already know what to do and I don’t think its fair at all.

    • Hey Sharmin,

      Your blog post intrigued me because it is on the topic of Stop and Frisk which is something that is very relevant (not to say that all the other topics in Citizen are not relevant or important) but it is something that often happens in our city. The example that Rankine gives us about the man being stopped by the officers and after being humiliated is released is one of the fortunate (unfortunately) endings. When reading this I immediately thought of Sandra Bland and the injustice that was brought upon her. Sandra Bland, who was pulled over for a “traffic violation” and eventually arrested. She was found hanged in a jail cell, where is was presumed to be a suicide (not my assumption). Before her death, Sandra Bland had made a phone call to a friend and left a voicemail stating she did not understand how switching lanes without signaling turned into her being held on bond.

      Now I have never been stopped in my life but my boyfriend told me a story of where in 2014 after walking home from work at night in a suit, he was pushed up against a store gate by police officers. He said, they said he fit the description of someone they were looking for. After searching for his wallet and seeing that he had a United Nations employee ID did they release him. He believes that ID is the only thing that saved him from being arrested and he says how that has scarred him. Now he is in the police academy and it scares me that he will be a police officer. Because of the stigma police officers have (because not all of them are corrupt), my advice to him is don’t be an ass, always remember that you want to be a police officer because you want to keep the community safe and just come home every night in one piece, not with one finger less.

    • “Frustration. This is how I felt while reading the Stop n Frisk section” – I believe that this was a great way to begin your post. Most, if not all, would feel the same when reading this one section because Rankine moves away from the abstract and delivers historical events–one’s that hit a specific chord. The stop and frisk portion of the text is a matter that I have experience with. On one occasion during the evening hours in my neighborhood, I was told by two police officers that I was to be searched. No real specifics were given, only that procedure had to be done. After the event concluded, they informed me that they were in search of contraband. The feelings associated with this episode were not ones that I would consider good. Rankine’s inclusion of these historical events transcend the poetic genre and bring the lyric to a cold reality. And it is an incorporation that I especially appreciate. I greatly enjoyed reading your post, and I especially enjoyed how you fused into it your personal experience.
      All in all, it was a great read. I look forward to you presentation.

      See you in class,


    • Stop-and-Frisk is another way of allowing police officers to overuse their power and make it acceptable while doing so. When I was reading this section about Stop-and-Frisk, the first thing that came to mind is how young black or Latino men get stopped everyday in the train station because police are regard to do “random” bag checks. The police feel like they are justified to do this because they feel like ” you may not be the guy but still fit the description because there is only one guy who is always fitting the description” (Rankine 106). Even though a police officer may know you aren’t that guy but since you have similar physical attributes of someone who may committed a crime, shows how America is taught to judge a book by its cover.

      After reading this section, I think I am more hurt that this is the reality minority’s are living in. If I was in this situation, I don’t know how I would handle it. Would I stand up for myself because I know I didn’t do anything wrong, which may get me killed by a police officer ? Or do I just deal with the injustice and act like this is morally acceptable?

    • This section of the book also annoyed, frustrated and just overall left me bitter. Rankine did such a great job capturing the emotions behind the character. It allowed me to make a connection to my own experiences. Which answers your first question (its kind of a long story). My boyfriend and I often drive to Montauk, Long Island at night during the summer. We both love to watch meteor showers and whenever there is one visible we make a date of it. One night while driving, my boyfriend was pulled over for speeding. The cop took about 25-30 minutes to give him a ticket and we were on our way. About a mile or two down the same road he was pulled over yet again. This time he was not given a ticket instead he was told to get out the car. They searched both him, me and the car. There was no reason given even when he asked “Why am I being pulled over?” much like the man in Citizen did. We only spoke when spoken to. I actually was in fear of my life and my boyfriend’s life. They continued to ask my boyfriend questions “What are you doing in this area? Why are you in this area? Where are you coming from? Where do you live? Why are your eyes red?” They did a field sobriety test on him. After about another 30-40 minutes we were finally able to head home. It was a pretty scary situation for both of us because we had no idea what would happen. The entire time I felt as if I was going to vomit.
      Like I said above, I think Rankine does a great job in describing the scene and the events that had occurred. The way she transitions from the characters thoughts to the actual dialogue was great.

    • Hey Sharmin,

      I’m happy to see that you focused on the “Stop n’ frisk” part because I too felt frustrationa and upset at the way this person in the story was treated. From the beginning, they were scared, alone, and afraid as soon as they saw the red & blue lights. it’s quite sad that this is an automatic emotion when dealing with the NYPD for minorities. The NYPD is supposed to make us feel safe, comfortable, protected, secure, yet in so many cases (especially for minorities) it is the complete opposite. We become cautious, stiff, and feel targeted, even if there is absolutley no reason as to why we would get this way. I’ve never gotten into any altercations involving the NYPD, and i don’t dive so no, i’ve never been pulled over… but I could only imagine the anxiety and worry that runs through a persons body as soon as they do look in their rear view mirror, and see a police car. I think Rankine did an excellent job with the decription of this person’s experience with the police officer. I also like how you included your own personal experience, including the was you felt, even if you didn’t do anything wrong. I also completley agree with the part where you said “The officers will never admit to their mistake…” because I think this is an important part when it involves something as small as giving someone a ticket when they have done nothing wrong, to getting sent to trial after shooting someone when again, that someone has done nothing wrong. It’s the sad truth, is what it is.


      Great post!

  • Citizen An American Lyric; published in 2014.

    Citizen: an inhabitant of a city or town, esp. one possessing civic rights and privileges, a burgess or freeman of a city” (Oxford English Dictionary). Throughout t […]

    • As parents, they try to comfort the child in situations that may be awkward or disturbing. In page 12, the mother response is “I’ll sit in the middle.” But before that there is a line that caught my attention. “You hope by sitting in silence you are the bucking the trend.” I like this line because its true. You can’t control all the actions of everybody. You could only pull yourself away from the situation and hope that nothing worse happens, making you part of a disturbing scene. I think the mother intentions were good for the child. The book Citizens by Claudia Rankine, gives me some definition as a student. I choose what to believe. Not everything that you see is beneficial to you. It was a nice read because I was able to explore different ideas while embracing my own thoughts.

    • Being in a situation like that is really awkward because if those seats belonged to them, I would have just given it honestly. I don’t really like making too much of a big deal out of things if it isn’t necessary. There was a time I was on the plane coming back home from a vacation and the person sitting next to me saw me and immediately did the Holy Cross symbol before taking off. I didn’t really know how to take that so I didn’t make too much of a deal. Situations like these are awkward and there isn’t much to really do here. I do really like the style Rankine uses for this poem. The second person really does make me feel like I am the one experiencing these situations and it hits harder due to that. One of my favorite pieces from this section we had to read was on page 14 talking about the “self”. The description about the “self self” and the “historical self” was well done especially at the end when it comes together where the speaker says, “And though your joined personal histories are supposed to save you from misunderstandings, they usually cause you to understand all too well what is meant” (Rankine 14). I like this way of describing the tensions that exist between people despite the understanding between them. And the use of second person makes it really easy to understand.

    • This was a really interesting read, as Rankine wrote the book in short verses, I really loved this approach because it emphasized the overall theme of dealing with racial microaggressions. So I thought it was a really unique way of making the reader feel equally as uncomfortable because it is one microaggression after the other very quickly (kinda cool). I don’t need the quotations as Rankine does a wonderful job weaving in and out of tenses and challenging the reader to put themselves directly in those situations. I especially liked her piece on Serena Williams and I was specifically drawn to her metaphor “To understand is to see Serena as hemmed in as any other black body thrown against our American background” (Rankine 32). I immediately thought about the cover of the book and the black bridle against the white background. Yes, the interaction with the mother and daughter on the plane was awkward and is seemed as though the child was unconsciously acting in a way that displayed white privilege. Instead of correcting her daughter and teaching her a valuable lesson, or at the minimum simply acknowledging those weren’t their seats she just sat in the middle. If that were my daughter I would have used that as a teachable moment and requested my daughter apologize and then make her sit in the middle seat the entire flight. As those are learned behaviors and a taught mindset that I would find unacceptable.

    • I think the best way to understand someone’s point would be to understand how they were raised. As parents it is natural to expect a parent to cater to their child’s needs, which is not the fault of the child. A child doesn’t know what is right and wrong, children are taught and expected to follow up on what they were taught.
      In all honesty, Rankine’s form of writing confused me. It took me some time to understand how her sense of writing can effect the message she is trying to emit to her readers. In the end I think much of what she wrote can be applied to the reader, in the sense that the word you, self, and I extends to the reader.

    • If I was the little girl’s mother, I would have just given in as well. I definitely would have felt disrepected and dehumanized for someone having the fear of sitting next to me. As much as I would want to have told the mother to teach her daughter to repect and not judge others, I honestly would not have said anything because of the setting. The fact that this scenario takes place in public on a plane, only limits my actions because I do not want to make a big deal or a scene in front of everyone else. Perhaps, if I could find the woman after the flight, I might have told her that I felt disrepected and judged because she did not want to sit next to me and therefore is setting a bad example for her daughter. I know you cannot expect everyone to understand or change their mind, but I think it is important to stand up for yorself and allow your voice to be heard when you feel uncomfortable, or in this case, discriminated. I too, found it interesting that there were no quotations for any of te characters. I feel this allows the reader to think more abstractly about each scenario and how they wish to percieve the characters. Rankine’s opening sentence, “When you are alone and too tired to turn on any of your devices, you let yourself linger in a past stacked among your pillows” (Rankine 5) uses imagry and language that is very poetic. Contructing sentences in a poetic manner, allows the reader to be able to envision the scene more abstractly and allow each individual to interpret and choose who he/she wants the scenario to play out.

    • Rankine definitely sets up interesting scenarios that could occur in everyday life and you could really cut the tension with a knife as the victim tries to mask the true emotions he/she feels. While I feel the mothers action could be taken to serious offense, I try to think what any mother would do in that situation. You want to appease your child because they feel uncomfortable around strangers, so sitting between your child and the stranger prevents any more awkwardness from occurring. If the child said ” I didn’t expect a ” insert race” man/woman to sit her, I think there would be more reason to be offended and call out the mother who probably reinforced negative connotations about certain groups of people.

    • I enjoyed your dissection of page 12’s scenario. If I was the little girl’s mother I would give in due to the fact it is a public setting; however I would apologize for my daughters remark and afterwards tell my daughter that what she said was disrespectful (but for starters I would hope my child was not in that situation.. but kids are kids..Answering your second question, I believe the writing still though eccentric, is influential with the word “you”; a large majority of the influence of the context of this text has to do with the way it is written. Though a few quotes would for sure make it easier.

    • I thought Rankine’s decision to not use quotations and write these experiences out as though they were happening to the reader was a brilliant one. Having this format forces the reader to consider if these events had occurred in a way which affected them. Having to read about these different experiences having to do with race definitely were intense so to make the reader feel uncomfortable and therefore push them to empathize with the people having these experiences. I would not change Rankine’s format. I enjoyed your post as you posed this question that I did not see in many other posts. You also ask the question about what we would do differently or how we would affect the situation. I like that you asked this question because it puts the reader on the spot and having to really think out what actions they’d take in this scenario.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself, I completely agree with Angelique’s comment “If that were my daughter I would have used that as a teachable moment and requested my daughter apologize and then make her sit in the middle seat the entire flight. As those are learned behaviors and a taught mindset that I would find unacceptable.” Every moment in life is a teachable moment, especially for a young child. The matter that was at hand could have been dealt with in a better way, instead of just pushing it to the side like it never happened. Yes, the situation was awkward and I’m glad Rankine writes it the way she did it allowed me to place myself on that plane and feel the experience. I don’t need the quotations because of how skillfully written this book is. I love the way each moment is broken down.

    • When thinking of youth and there realization of the world around them, they are in an essence the product of their parents bias. As they grow up they learn about the ideologies from their parents and choose whether to continue or go down a different path. In accordance to the quote you posted, it is quite unclear whether or not the you might feel offended but rather it reflects more on the line of thinking of the youth. Why is it that the child felt uncomfortable with me? I know many times my mom has told my sister that something is undesirable to be near and my sister in turn will not only listen but continue to follow that train of thought. The mother however through that unclear audible did the right thing by sitting in the middle. If I had a child and I was going to my seat and I saw a random stranger at the window, it may just be me but they aren’t sitting near my child regardless.

    • “She uses the word “you”, to make the reader be in the shoes of the character in which she is describing.” When reading your post, this one sentence jump out towards me. The reason being, is because this is exactly how I read Rankine’s first section. So, with this statement, I could not agree with you more. And contrasting the definition of the word Citizen with your statement: “It also highlights the idea that people are not getting their freedom as they are supposed to,” was an element of the text that I missed. So, regarding your script, the connection and association were made–by me, and I have you to thank for that. As far as your questioning goes, I also stand by your statement: the fault lies on the shoulders of the teacher, not the student. And the omission, or the leaving out of quotations has a unique effect on the reading. It is one that allows the reader to delve deeply within the text, leaving room for discoveries that perhaps would have been passed if quotations were present.
      All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Most of what was placed throughout, were ideas similar to my own. Kudos on a job well done, Sharmin.

      See you in class,


    • I have no idea why i said she was twelve. I was probably thinking of something else, sorry. Hopefully you get my point

    • I enjoy reading Claudia Rankine’s Citizen because she shows how relevant racism is. As a parent, I understand that your responsibility is to protect your child from dangerous situations. Another duty as a parent is to teach your child right from wrong. In this case this was a perfect time for that mother to educate her twelve year old child on how to show respect in a public environment. Everyone has feelings and everyone wants to feel comfortable. Sitting in the middle of a complete stranger so her twelve year old daughter could feel comfortable is not the issue. The issue here is this twelve year old girl feels entitled, therefore she feels it’s not a problem to say out loud “These are our seats”. This isn’t a private jet that she or her mother owns. What was she expecting? I agree with you that it’s all about how a person is brought up because I know my mother would have been pissed if I said something like that. Children should be taught respect at an early age.

    • Hey , Sharmin. I enjoyed reading your blog post. The reference you made about the “you” is ver true. The “you” creates a universal few that anyone who is reading this story can relate to the events that are being discussed. To answer one of your discussion question , I think I would react very differently if I was the mother of the child. For the mother to say ” she will sit in the middle” ( Rankine 12) shows the ignorance the mother is allowing. The mother sitting in the middle is bascially telling her child that it is acceptable to judge others just because of the a person looks. If that was my child I would explain to her, that there is nothing to be worried about. I also would have a talk with her about discrimination & how that is not acceptable. I child will not learn from right & wrong unless you teach them.

  • The review I chose to annotate is from The New York Times titled, “no Rest of the Weary”. Written by Ben Brantley, this review is based on the 2014 play production in New York at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. This […]

    • Hey Sharmin!
      Well first off, i would love to watch this play just cause Denzel Washington plays in it, he is the best! I really like how you explained and chose this review to write about. I like how your analysis tells us that even in the play that Denzel is acting out, as Walter, he is very tired and worn out which shows how he feels about the situation he is in. It’s also really nice that you noticed how feminism is shown even in the 1950’s with how mama and Ruth are acting in the household with Walter. They seem to be more of “wearing the pants in the family”. Love it!

    • Forgot to include the website URL:

  • Hi my name is Sharmin Akther and I am an English major along with Secondary Education. My goal is to eventually teach high school English. To me, arts of dissent means expressing differences creatively.
    This […]

    • Just like you I am also an English major with the hopes of one day teaching. I enjoyed your post the most because of the way you interpreted The arts of dissent. Rather than using it as an example to describe difference in opinion you went about it by difference in skin. The picture was a perfect example of what you are trying to propose.