Citizen Book Summary - Citizen Book explained in key points

Citizen summary

Claudia Rankine

Brief summary

Citizen by Claudia Rankine is a powerful exploration of racism and microaggressions in America. Through prose and poetry, Rankine addresses the complexities of race and challenges readers to confront their own biases.

Give Feedback
Table of Contents

    Summary of key ideas

    Exploring the Complexities of Race and Citizenship

    In Citizen by Claudia Rankine, we are taken on a journey through the complexities of race and citizenship in America. The book is a blend of poetry, essay, and visual imagery, creating a unique and powerful narrative that explores the everyday experiences of racism and the impact it has on an individual's sense of belonging and identity.

    Rankine begins by recounting a series of microaggressions and overt acts of racism that she and others have experienced. These incidents range from seemingly innocent comments to outright hostility, all of which serve to remind the reader of the pervasive nature of racism in our society. The author's use of the second person in her narrative style makes these experiences feel personal and immediate, drawing the reader into the emotional impact of these encounters.

    Microaggressions and Their Impact

    The book delves into the concept of microaggressions, subtle, often unintentional acts of discrimination, and their cumulative impact on the mental and emotional well-being of those who experience them. Rankine illustrates how these seemingly small incidents can have a profound effect, causing a constant state of vigilance and anxiety in the individuals targeted. She also highlights the difficulty in addressing these microaggressions, as they are often dismissed or denied by the perpetrators.

    Rankine further explores the impact of racism on public figures, particularly black athletes, such as Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane. She discusses the racial bias they face in the media and the public eye, highlighting the double standards and heightened scrutiny they endure due to their race. These examples serve to underscore the pervasive nature of racism and its impact on individuals, regardless of their status or achievements.

    Confronting the Reality of Racism

    Throughout Citizen, Rankine challenges the notion of a 'post-racial' society, arguing that racism is still deeply ingrained in our culture and institutions. She confronts the reader with the harsh reality of racial injustice, urging us to acknowledge and address these issues rather than ignore or deny them. The book serves as a call to action, encouraging readers to engage in difficult conversations about race and to work towards a more equitable society.

    Rankine also explores the concept of citizenship, questioning what it means to be a 'citizen' in a society that continues to marginalize and oppress certain groups based on their race. She challenges the traditional notion of citizenship as a marker of belonging and inclusion, highlighting how racial minorities are often made to feel like outsiders in their own country.

    Conclusion: A Powerful Examination of Race and Identity

    In conclusion, Citizen by Claudia Rankine is a powerful and thought-provoking examination of race, identity, and citizenship in America. Through a combination of poetry, essay, and visual imagery, Rankine presents a deeply personal and emotional exploration of the impact of racism on individuals and society as a whole. The book challenges us to confront the reality of racial injustice and to work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

    Give Feedback
    How do we create content on this page?
    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Citizen about?

    Citizen (2014) is a powerful exploration of race and identity in contemporary America. Through a combination of prose, poetry, and visual art, Claudia Rankine delves into the everyday experiences of racial microaggressions and the larger systemic issues that shape the lives of black individuals. This thought-provoking book challenges readers to confront their own biases and consider what it truly means to be a citizen in a society marked by racial tensions.

    Citizen Review

    Citizen (2014) by Claudia Rankine is a thought-provoking and timely book that explores the experiences of racial microaggressions and systemic racism in contemporary society. Here's why we recommend reading it:

    • The book's raw and honest narratives shed light on the daily realities of racism, challenging readers to confront their own biases and privileges.
    • Rankine tackles complex issues with sensitivity and nuance, combining poetry, prose, and visual imagery to create a powerful and multi-dimensional narrative.
    • Through its relatable and relatable stories, Citizen captures the universal struggle for belonging and highlights the urgency of dismantling systemic racism for a more inclusive society.

    Who should read Citizen?

    • Individuals who want to explore the complexities of race and racism in contemporary society
    • Readers interested in thought-provoking and lyrically expressive non-fiction
    • Those who are open to challenging their own perspectives and confronting uncomfortable truths

    About the Author

    Claudia Rankine is a renowned poet, playwright, and author. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and the MacArthur Fellowship. Rankine's writing often explores themes of race, identity, and social justice. Her book Citizen: An American Lyric is a powerful and thought-provoking examination of racism in America. Through her unique blend of poetry and prose, Rankine challenges readers to confront the realities of discrimination and inequality.

    Categories with Citizen

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Citizen FAQs 

    What is the main message of Citizen?

    The main message of Citizen is an exploration of race and identity in America through powerful poetry and prose.

    How long does it take to read Citizen?

    The reading time for Citizen varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Citizen a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Citizen is worth reading as it offers a compelling and thought-provoking perspective on race and identity. It is a powerful book that will leave a lasting impact.

    Who is the author of Citizen?

    The author of Citizen is Claudia Rankine.

    What to read after Citizen?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Citizen, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
    • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
    • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
    • Happiness by Richard Layard
    • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
    • The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
    • Justice by Michael J. Sandel
    • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
    • Simply Complexity by Neil F. Johnson
    • Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday