• This website was created by undergraduate students at Queens College. Our names are Damaris Castro, Cassandra Maria, and Vanessa Richards. This website will speak about the stereotypes placed on immigrants […]

  • Throughout the story, we see Elvis giving others money, paying for their food and often having conversation with beggars. While reading I was very curious about exactly how much money Elvis gave/donated. I decided […]

    • Reading the conversion rate surprised and didn’t surprise me at the same time. I knew Nigeria was a poor country, but even so that’s ridiculous. But it makes sense why the country is so poor. The fact that money is being inflated came as a surprise to me because I didn’t imagine countries would continue to inflate money. This post reminded me of a scene on page 13 where Elvis is doing his impersonation for the people who arrived in Lagos and all he gets from them is two naira. It says, “It hardly seemed worth it. His bus fare cost more” (Abani). I looked up how much two naira is and it’s 0.0065 US Dollar. Well, I would be saying the same thing as well if I were Elvis too.

    • Hi Vanessa,
      I like that you shed much needed light on exchange rate of Naria versus the Dollar. One Naria equals 0.0025 British pound, so clearly its value drops further in Britain. The British colonized Nigeria from 1914-1960. They directly took advantage of Nigerians, their natural resources, and their free and very cheap labor, and this is only after the slave-trade was finally prohibited; and now one of the many countries around the world that were colonized by the British are disrespected and dismissed by them. The British Kingdom has accumulated wealth from a super-long list of countries including:

      which always left the British more wealthy and powerful and the colonized countries depleted, exploited, and socio-economically diminished. Reparations of any kind have never been provided.

    • I thought about the same issue as well, he spoke about getting paid 5,000 naira and I expected it to be more than what it actually is. So it did shock me but I also knew that it was a poor country so I could see why they’d act as if it was a lot of money. Also this girl was just giving him money making her seem rich from when you quoted, “she told him, and feeling somewhat helpless, he had pressed a five-naira note into her palm.” I really found your post to be informational because I wouldn’t have focused on the money, I just passed over it and didn’t come to realize it till now.

    • Hey Vanessa,

      I did not look up the exchange rate when reading Graceland, I assumed the difference was drastic considering the circumstances. With the actual number value (5 Narias to .0164 USD), you are absolutely right in regards to the fact that it does really put emphasis on the issues in Nigeria and the fact, as SM mentioned in his post, that money still being inflated. I also like the excerpt from the text (page 108) on how 300 naria are equivalent to 98 cents, it made me feel a certain type of way(upset…)and also highlighted that country’s financial peril. Good job on the post, and see you in class!!

    • I did not know about the exchange rate from Naria to American currency, that is really crazy. I think if Elvis were to move to America, he would need a lot of Naria to sustain a low end lifestyle, barely getting by. It must be a burden to carry around all those bills around to buy something as small as a simple bus ticket like Elvis does when he travels to the beach to perform his act to the tourists and locals there. It reminds me of when in Nazi Germany, the economy crashed and it’s citizens had to wheelbarrow money just to buy a loaf of bread or something minor. It makes me think if globalization will save Lagos or destroy it’s culture and displace it’s impoverished citizens.

  • Rankine ends her book Citizen with a side by side picture of an oil painting. This oil painting was titled The Slave Ship and was painted by William Turner in 1840. I was curious as to why she ended the book with […]

    • Hey Vanessa! Your blog post cuaght my attentions because I really liked the painting you chose to zero in on. When I first looked at the painting at a glance, it looked like a beautiful painting of a sunset and the waves with the ship in the distance. But once, I took a closer look and payed attantion to the details, I noticed hands sticking out of the water. I figured these were the hands of the slaves who were drowning. To me, the hands are a haunting image. They can represent the last bit of hope the slaves had for freedom. They can also symbolize the slaves last breath before they perished forever. The image of the hands reaching out of the water gave me a chilling feeling because I wanted to reach out and pull them out from sinking but obviously I can’t and therefore, they will ultimately reach their death. I belive Rankine included this painting towards the end of the novel is to send a message that racism is something that we can just turn our backs on. You quote Rankine when she states, “And that equation between whiteness and the black body as property of whiteness is the equation we can’t get out of…” Yes, slavery does does not exist in this country anymore yet there is much racism and discrimination towards the black community that continues to this day. Adding this painting towards the end gives the reader a haunting feeling, a feeling of uncertainty as to when racism will end. It gives me feeling of incompletion because we as a nation, have not done our part to iliminate racism and injustice. It is an issue many blacks and other minorities can’t escape from, therefore they feel they are drowing and searching for air. The hands that are reaching out of the violent waves are the last cries of those who have experienced the injustice and it is up to us now to make sure no more hands go below the surface.

    • Hey Vanessa, i really like how you really went into depth about this last painting Rankine has left us readers with. I learned something new about it and i thank you for it! 🙂
      When i first looked at the painting i only noticed the water, the birds, the boat and the sunset. But after reading your blog post, i looked back at the painting and noticed the hands that are in the water and i believe i also see blood in the water as well. My first reaction to the painting was just “OH, its just a regular painting of the sea”, but then when you explained what it was exactly about, with the 133 slaves being thrown over. My stomach turned. When i looked back at the painting i felt bad and also angry. Throw 133 African Americans, how they call them, slaves, over the boat because of finance situations? It gets me ridiculously uncomfortable because it’s such a senseless act.
      Hmm, do i think she could have ended the book differently? I dont know honestly. I guess she was trying to tell us that this problem is still going on with racism against blacks. I at first didn’t understand what she was trying to show us with the painting. Maybe she could of ended the book with something that would quickly get the readers attention on knowing what exactly she is trying to present to us. Good Job! 😀

    • Hi Vanessa, well done blog! Like you said yourself, when I first looked at the painting I didn’t notice the lone leg coming out of the water in the corner of the picture. When I saw that section isolated and blown up on the next page, I had to go back to the original and look for it. In the isolated image, the chained leg reaching above the waves is the only thing you have to focus on and as others have said, it churns your stomach. Aside from Rankine’s stated reasoning for including this painting, I think we could also view it as a symbolic representation of the microaggressions she explores in Citizen. The microaggressions the Black community experiences are small and often not overt but when you really hone in on them, we begin to see their real toll. You might not be able to determine what happened, or even if something happened, in the moment or on the first veiwing of a situation but closer examination (like the isolation of the drowning body in the painting) highlights the detrimental, collective effects.

    • Hey Vanessa, when I first saw the painting, my eyes immediately stared at the sunset and the white light that’s in the middle. After realizing that they were people in the water I began to think about Slave ships, and the many African Americans that died during slavery. After reading your post I now know why the slaves are in the water and the thought of it is more disturbing. It’s difficult to look at pictures like this one and know that it is not a figment of our imagination, but instead these were real events. It’s uncomfortable to look at because you can see the slaves reaching their hands out, wanting to grasp something so they won’t drown and no one is there to help. The thought of drowning gives me anxiety and that’s the same way I feel while looking at this picture. I feel anxiety and fear while looking at this picture because the water is consuming them and I can tell the more they fight to stay above the water the less capable they are of doing so.

    • Hello Venessa, I really like that you choose to write about the painting and the impact it has as an ending to the book. It definitely leaves a lasting impression and forces the reader to think about the historical context of racism within American culture. I think it’s a great ending to the book, so many of the instances Rankin speaks of in Citizen have happened recently and speak to the current climate in America. The painting reminds us that these issues of racism, prejudice, and privilege aren’t new. I think this is a powerful message to conclude her book, there are no more excuses the notion of “I wish I knew” doesn’t stand anymore because now everyone knows. At first glance, like you I didn’t see the bodies in the water, I paid more attention to the color scheme and how eerie it felt. The colors led me to believe it was either right at sundown, or early morning at dusk, and that the sky was drenched in a blood orange/red which now feels symbolic of the lives lost. The painting is very impactful and I think an excellent way for Rankin to drive home her point. It is a very stunning and solemn piece of art work that will stay with the reader for a long time, and also helps emphasize everything Citizen represents.

    • Hi Vanessa! I really enjoyed reading your blog. I liked how you mainly focused on this particular painting. When I first looked at it, I noticed the different types of colors. To me at first, it looked like a storm. I looked closely and noticed a ship and the ship was in a wreck. Then I looked even more closely and maybe what seemed to look like sticks, was actually people. It’s just a powerful painting and Rankine really did include it in her book to leave the reader thinking about it. The reader starts to notice the close details after looking closely at it.
      Nice blog post !

    • “I’ve been thinking about it all night. I believe that is the impact Rankine wanted.” I love how you ended your post with this sentence. It caught my attention and furthered my belief that the image posses an intrinsic quality that impacts most who view it. When first considering the paint I mainly focused my attention towards the ominous sunset–just as you did. But when examining the close up, an extreme feeling of distress left me unsettled. I noticed the amputated leg, chain included, right away. This coupled with your impressive research, and the explanation given by Rankin herself, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. One that I wasn’t fond of and could do without. But perhaps this impression, as you said, is one that Rankine intended to deliver. The image brings about an awareness, one that goes well with the final words of Citizen’s chapter. The struggle has always been there, and will–most likely, continue to be present. As with the metaphor presented by Rankine: perseverance, in the face of adversity is what matters most. Perhaps there is no end to the fight. Perhaps there is only continuing the compete. And it is this strength that ties into the final image of Citizen. It is a closing that is done very well, and one that should not be changed.

      Excellent post, Vanessa. I really enjoyed the reading. Well done.

      See you in class,


    • Hey, I really love your perspective of this piece. Like you, I noticed the beautiful sunset first and then, I realize there was something in the water. As I looked closer, I saw a black woman’s leg with a shackle on it. As I looked on the next page, my heart sank deeper into the artwork. The fact that there’s fish devouring what looks like black folks, what a way to end this book. I automatically thought of the slave trade and how, colonizers would overthrow enslaved people off the ship. Also, enslave folks would kill themselves by jumping into the water so that, they don’t have to witness the acts of slavery in the U.S. I believe this was the perfect way to end the book because it shows you that everyone has been affected by slavery ever since it began. Turner’s image illustrates the constant drowning of colored folks. Since the slave trade, colored people have been used as merchandise but, what makes us so worthy? Rankine writes, “And yes, I want to interrupt to tell him her us you me I don’t know how to end what doesn’t have an ending”, (159). The mental, spiritual, physical killing doesn’t stop in America because it started here. Every story that Rankine incorporates in her poem, explains the encounters of injustice that mostly everyone faces everyday no matter if your looking through the eyes of the “master” or “enslaved”. As you stated, “Rankine describes the last page of her book and explains her intentions, “I didn’t want to create false hope… I thought, “Gosh, this problem has been around since the market—since black bodies were part of the market. When they were objects. When they were considered property.” And that equation between whiteness and the black body as property of whiteness is the equation we can’t get out of… I wanted to end [Citizen] with Turner because people always say, “Well, I didn’t know. It wasn’t my intention. I wish I had known more about this…” But Turner knew better in the 1800s. He knew better. And this is 2015. So, there it was. The end ” Rankine, ” As a colored citizen of the U.S, this book displays how we’re all apart of the profit of America. The real question is, what makes us so worthy? Maybe the fact that, our identity has been stripped away; maybe the fact that, we had to make a new culture that’s controlled by vultures; maybe the fact that, we have to yearn to make importance of our very existence. We all have our own stories of dissent. We have a part to play in America’s game. We all are the ending product of micro-aggressions. However, we all can alter our reality once we connect the history to our current circumstances. The lasting image reminds us that, we have to Control or destiny and seek for a brighter day, like our ancestors did.

    • Eric replied 1 year ago

      The first thing I notice from the painting was, the hands within the water, who seem to be grasping for safety. The faint arms in the water seem to compliment the picture which states, distress and man overboard.
      As for my reaction towards the painting well, the painting stimulates so many feelings like, racism, fear and hopeless. Just by the way the hands are waving, you get the sense that the people in the water are hopelessly clinging to their lives. I think in a moment like that, it is appropriate to have some fear.
      I feel the longer you stare into the paint the more you think about how deep it is, I can’t say it impacts me as much but it is disturbing. It’s disturbing in the sense that the painter capture fear and hopeless-ness into his art.

  • “Theater review: ‘Raisin in the Sun’ gets a dream of a production at Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica” By Dany Margolies

    I decided to write about a review Dany Margolies wrote in the Los Angeles Daily N […]

  • My name is Vanessa. I’m an Early Childhood Education major with a second major in English. I graduated from Queensborough Community College with my AA in Liberal Arts/Education. I work a seasonal job at Citi Field […]

    • I actually really like the picture you used when thinking about Arts of Dissent. It was the picture about how censorship is Unamerican. I like that because I think of a form of artwork going against an accepted standard. Censorship has something that became integrated into our lives without us even realizing it. So by arguing how it is “Unamerican” it is challenging the accepted standard set by the people in power, the people around us, as well the constitution itself.

      I didn’t know about the Secretary of Education thing until you talked about it. Jeez, that’s pretty scary. Privatizing public schools won’t do any good for anyone. It’ll make a problem worse than it should be. I like the examples you use since they fit into a definition I can agree with.