Just Us

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, TIME MAGAZINE, NPR, ESQUIRE, THE GUARDIAN, O MAGAZINE, MS. MAGAZINE, STAR TRIBUNE, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, KIRKUS REVIEWS, AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

FINALIST FOR THE 2021 ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen changed the conversation–Just Us urges all of us into it

As everyday white supremacy becomes increasingly vocalized with no clear answers at hand, how best might we approach one another? Claudia Rankine, without telling us what to do, urges us to begin the discussions that might open pathways through this divisive and stuck moment in American history.

Just Us is an invitation to discover what it takes to stay in the room together, even and especially in breaching the silence, guilt, and violence that follow direct addresses of whiteness. Rankine’s questions disrupt 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 live on the surface of differing commitments, beliefs, and prejudices as our public and private lives intersect.

This brilliant arrangement of essays, poems, and images includes the voices and rebuttals of others: white men in first class responding to, and with, their white male privilege; a friend’s explanation of her infuriating behavior at a play; and women confronting the political currency of dying their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complements Rankine’s own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word.

Sometimes wry, often vulnerable, and always prescient, Just Us is Rankine’s most intimate work, less interested in being right than in being true, being together.

“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

“[ 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

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