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Thoughts On Citizen: An American Lyric

By YWCA of Minneapolis- Guest Blog Dr. Val Moeller
October 29, 2015
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When you read Citizen: An American Lyric, you can’t escape Claudia Rankine’s insights on daily life. They leave you with the temptation to ignore them, but you know you have been touched. You have been pulled in.  They jump out at you, leaving you wondering:  “didn’t I just hear this at the office today?” Or “this is why the news seems so negative.”  You continue to read what seems impossible, though you know it is happening.After reading Citizen: An American Lyric, your awareness is heightened, and sadly you begin to put pieces together as you realize – you are not crazy. In passage after passage, you’re reminded that you’ve been in this situation as a bystander, the main protagonist, or even someone who wants to ignore race issues, because you don’t know how to handle them.

We have taken for granted that race relations are much better. We’ve forgotten to check our own feelings and biases about race, or the content of reports we hear, as if something is wrong with people of color for wanting to be treated fairly in a society that promises opportunity to all, but falls short of delivering on that promise.

Claudia Rankine is the Keynote Speaker of the 13th Annual It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race. Her critically acclaimed book, Citizen: An American Lyric, uses poetry, essay, cultural criticism, and visual images to explore what it means to be an American citizen in a “post-racial” society. Citizen: An American Lyric won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. For more information about It’s Time To Talk, please click here.

Dr. Valeriana Moeller served as president of Columbus State Community College, a two-year, Urban college, for 14 years, and has three decades of leadership experience at colleges in Michigan, Ohio and Minneapolis. In addition to serving on the YWCA of Minneapolis Board of Directors, Dr. Moeller mentors and coaches in the American Council on Education Fellows Program, consults on leadership issues in Higher Education, and serves on the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Foundation Board of Directors. She was born in India and raised in Portugal, where she began her career as a high school chemistry teacher.  To learn more about the mission of YWCA of Minneapolis, click here.