Just Us: An American Conversation

November 1, 2020
Just Us: An American Conversation

Claudia Rankine's Citizen changed theconversation—Just Us urges all of us intoitAs everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized withno clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another?Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to beginthe discussions that might open pathways through this divisive andstuck moment in American history.Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes tostay in the room together, even and especially in breaching thesilence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses ofwhiteness. Rankine's questions disrupt the false comfort of ourculture's liminal and private spaces—the airport, the theater, thedinner party, the voting booth—where neutrality and politeness liveon the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices asour public and private lives intersect.This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includesthe voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first classresponding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend'sexplanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and womenconfronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, allrunning alongside fact-checked notes and commentary thatcomplements Rankine's own text, complicating notions of authorityand who gets the last word.Sometimes wry, often vulnerable, and always prescient, JustUs is Rankine's most intimate work, less interested in beingright than in being true, being together.