Laila Lalami’s account of the multitude of ways that many citizens — whether natural born or naturalized — are treated as lesser is precise and well argued. Informed by her own history, but citing numerous sources about the experience of others, Conditional Citizens makes a convincing case that gaining the official designation of inclusion into American society doesn’t make one welcome. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize---finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth--such as national origin, race, and gender--that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still their shadows today.
Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white make landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.
Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami's own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.