Author Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric is the 2017 Diversity Common Reader selection at NMU. Her book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st century daily life and in the media. Free copies were distributed to students and faculty discussion leaders at a recent event. Related programming around the selection aims to foster discussion on how different forms of racism and oppression interact, overlap and are experienced.
Some of the encounters described in Rankine's book are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue. Others are intentional offensives everywhere from in the classroom, supermarket or home to professional sports, online and on television. Rankine contends the accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform and stay alive.
“Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship,” she writes. In essay, image and poetry, Citizen: An American Lyric is a testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in the contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
The Diversity Common Reader Program is a semester-long initiative by the President's Committee on Diversity focused on exposing a new cultural or ethnic idea at a campus-wide level. The committee invites the campus community to participate in discussions with the author or other notable speakers visiting campus, and to participate in writing and art contests reflecting the reading. For information contact DCRP Committee Chair Tracy Wascom at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at ext. 2000.