Citizen Map and Blog

To be honest, I thought this project was going to be daunting. I still kind of do because I don’t know how to explain my thought process when I don’t even understand what I am thinking.

The way the book, Citizen – An American Lyric, is laid out in my head is all a jumble. The book is a collection of stories, poems, and passages that left me thinking. I was stumped on how I was going to make a ‘map’ of the story, when I was lost in the words of the pages themselves.

Why was I so lost? Why was this book in particular so hard to understand for me?

I feel guilty.

I don’t know why but I do. I feel bad that I feel guilty but I do.

Why do I have the privilege to not be able to understand or connect some of these stories to my own life? Why do other people have to experience these things just because of their race, socioeconomic status, or stereotypes set by the corrupt society we live in. 

In Citizen, page 134 has a list of people whose murder was instigated by our racist country. I was not shocked to know some of the names, but I was disgusted at myself for not knowing the other names. These people were wrongfully murdered because of a society that I live in. I buy things. I pay taxes. Those taxes help contribute to this society and prolong this system of oppression that has killed some people whose voices are suppressed by the media and people in power.

“We are drowning” – And yet no one seems to care. I am guilty that I am contributing to a society that has allowed such discrimination to exist for years.

As a citizen of the United States and of the world, I feel we have the responsibility to stand up for those who are pushed down. I think the reason why I feel guilty is because I am in a position where I can use my voice to empower others and create change, however I feel stuck. The personalization of the book – by using “you” instead of “I” or “they”, allowed for me to see the first hand implications that the state of our country have on Black Americans. I feel guilty that my privilege allows me to not feel the effects of systemic racism first hand, but after I now have done some of the work towards my education, I can answer some of these questions and learn about others perspectives and lived experiences.

Here’s a little bit of a description about the way I laid out my piece:

  • I tore the paper in half because there is a disconnect between me and the text. My lived experiences do not align with those in the book, so I feel as hard as I try to reach out and learn, I never truly will know what it is like.
  • I wrote “you” in big letters because that is what differentiated this book from other books about race for me. I read, “So You Want To Talk About Race” for my Gallery of Conscience book, but that book is not written in second person, so I can not as easily put myself in the position of the person who is writing.
  • The side of the paper that has a lot of drawings and writing is the side of the book. The other side that just has me is very plain. The lines that connect the two sides in the attempt at connection, but inability to do so.
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3 thoughts on “Citizen Map and Blog

  1. Woah this is so cool. Alivia omg you totally took a different route than me when making your piece. I love it and it gives me new ideas I wish I could add to my piece right now. I am left wondering about some of your choices for your piece. Why is it in a jumble? Does it reflect the thoughts in your mind?

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  2. What stuck with me the most from your map is how you disrupted the rigid rectangle shape (which everyone that I’ve seen, including myself, kept). Cutting the paper in half makes for a really good representation of your feeling of disconnect from the experiences Rankine highlights in Citizen.

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  3. Interestingly (but not coincidentally because she is a boss), your image of the police car and the drowning/water directly reflect the imagery in Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ video. Take a look if you haven’t seen it, or if you haven’t seen it recently. Also not coincidentally, she is someone who puts herself squarely in the frame (atop the flooding car) as opposed to where you’ve placed yourself, which is torn away from the rest. You obviously focus on your own guilt, and I wonder how that connects to some of the not guilty verdicts for the victims listed in Citizen. What do we do with our own complicity? What do we do with the system’s?

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