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Just Us: An American Conversation

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Notes From Black Reads

Claudia Rankine’s Just Us: An American Conversation is an incredibly accessible work. It combines her poetry and essays that lend itself to dialogue while reading the book AND after reading the book. Through photographs, illustrations and side-by-side page notes, we can consider the weight of the subject matter. The intimacy and personal recollections of Rankine’s writing will open your eyes to the world around you. It’s a deft gesture that only a poet and scholar of Rankine’s ability could pull off.

Now in paperback, Claudia Rankine’s “skyscraper in the literature on racism” (Christian Science Monitor)


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.

ISBN-13: 9781644450635

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Graywolf Press

Publication Date: 09-07-2021

Pages: 360

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

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.

Table of Contents

What if 3

Liminal spaces i 13

Evolution 57

Lemonade 71

Outstretched 85

Daughter 91

Notes on the state of whiteness 107

Tiki torches 119

Study on white male privilege 135

Tall 143

Social contract 147

Violent 159

Sound and fury 177

Big little lies 183

Ethical loneliness 193

Liminal spaces ii 217

José martí 231

Boys will be boys 255

Complicit freedoms 267

Whitening 307

Liminal spaces iii 317