Synopses & Reviews
As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history.
Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, even and especially in breaching the silence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses of whiteness. Rankine's questions disrupt the false comfort of our culture's liminal and private spaces — the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth — where neutrality and politeness live on the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices as our public and private lives intersect.
This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includes the voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first class responding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend's explanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and women confronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complements Rankine's own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word.
Sometimes wry, often vulnerable, and always prescient, Just Us is Rankine's most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, being together.
"[A] passionate and persuasive case about many of the complex
mechanics of race in this country....Rankine writes with disarming
intimacy and searing honesty....A work that should move, challenge,
and transform every reader who encounters it." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"An incisive, anguished, and
very frank call for Americans of all races to cultivate their
'empathetic imagination' in order to build a better future." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
overwhelming power of whiteness in everyday interaction...Rankine
once again opens a literary window into the Black experience, for those
willing to look in."
Booklist (Starred Review)
"Rankine seeks to find a
space beyond white defensiveness and guilt where meaningful discussions
can take place....A must-read to add to the conversation on racism,
anti-racism, and white fragility."
Library Journal (Starred Review)
About the Author
Claudia Rankine is the author of
Citizen: An American Lyric and four previous books, including
Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Her work has appeared recently in the
New York Times Book Review, the
New York Times Magazine, and the
Washington Post. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American
Poets, the winner of the 2014 Jackson Poetry Prize, and a contributing
Poets & Writers. She received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2016. Rankine is the Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry at Yale University.