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Just Us

An American Conversation

Graywolf Press

Just Us Download image

ISBN10: 1644450631
ISBN13: 9781644450635

Paperback

360 Pages

$20.00

CA$26.99

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Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence

In Just Us, Claudia Rankine invites us into a necessary conversation about Whiteness in America. What would it take for us to breach the silence, guilt, and violence that arise from addressing Whiteness for what it is? What are the consequences if we keep avoiding this conversation? What might it look like if we step into it? “I learned early that being right pales next to staying in the room,” she writes.

This brilliant assembly of essays, poems, documents, and images disrupts 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 deflect true engagement in our shared problems. Rankine makes unprecedented art out of the actual voices and rebuttals of others: White men responding to, and with, their White male privilege; a friend clarifying her unexpected behavior at a play; and women on the street expressing the political currency of dyeing their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complement Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word. Funny, vulnerable, and prescient, Just Us is Rankine’s most intimate and urgent book, a crucial call to challenge our vexed reality.

Reviews

Praise for Just Us

“[Just Us is] a brilliant and timely examination of whiteness in America. This consciousness-raising, bravura combination of personal essays, poems, photographs, and cultural commentary works on so many levels and is a skyscraper in the literature on racism.”Christian Science Monitor

“Claudia Rankine has once again written a book that feels both timely and timeless, and an essential part of the conversations all Americans are having (or should be having) right now.”Refinery29

“There is a persistence in Rankine to agitate the evasiveness, or complacency, that has metastasized in the minds of her acquaintances . . . Her willingness to force other people out of normalcy with frankness, and her inclination toward untethering herself from her economic status and cultural capital through traumatic dialogues, seems unparalleled . . . Comfort, when so much in our vantage is in shambles, seems a luxury that should collectively be left on the shelf until civilization has worked hard enough to afford it. Which makes a strong case for Just Us as not only the most comprehensive articulation of the racial imaginary Rankine has ever put on paper, but as her magnum opus.”4Columns

“Rankine has emerged as one of America’s foremost scholars on racial justice . . . [To] a past we have avoided reckoning, Rankine will be helping America understand itself, one conversation at a time.”—The Associated Press

“[Claudia Rankine] is one of our foremost thinkers, and Just Us is essential reading.”BookPage

“This brilliant and multi-layered work by Claudia Rankine is a call, a bid, an insistent, rightly impatient demand for a public conversation on whiteness . . . A rare honesty toward a potential affirmation. Anyone who turns away from this bold and vital invitation to get to work would be a damn fool.”—Judith Butler

“In Just Us, Claudia Rankine continues her remarkable and brilliant interrogation of the language, culture, and history that have shaped America, forging through poems, essays, and documents a literary archive that is utterly original and desperately needed.”—Dinaw Mengestu

“In my work, well-meaning white people consistently ask me how to recognize racism. Yet we might ask, ‘How have we managed not to know?’ The information is everywhere, if we care to listen. Indeed, here is illuminating testimony that is both poetic and well beyond the abstract. With clarity and grace, Claudia Rankine delivers a gut punch to white denial. Just Us is stunning work—audacious, revelatory, devastating.”—Robin DiAngelo

“With Just Us, Claudia Rankine offers further proof that she is one of our essential thinkers about race, difference, politics, and the United States of America. Written with humility and humor, criticism and compassion, Just Us asks difficult questions and begins necessary conversations.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen

“Fiercely intimate, rigorous . . . [Just Us] lets all of us in on the conversations—with others and the self—that are necessary for survival, which, attested by this all-too-human account, is rooted in the vigilance that racially imagined people must maintain for their very being.”—Nuar Alsadir

“In this genre-defying work, [Claudia Rankine], as she did so effectively in Citizen, combines poetry, essay, visuals, scholarship, analysis, invective, and argument into 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)

“Rankine presents another arresting blend of essays and images, perfectly attuned to this long-overdue moment of racial reckoning . . . [Analyzing] the 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, antiracism, and white fragility.”Library Journal (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)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Claudia Rankine is a poet, an essayist, and a playwright. Just Us completes her groundbreaking trilogy, following Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen. She is a MacArthur Fellow and teaches at New York University.