Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Joanna Levin

Second Advisor

Rei Magosaki

Third Advisor

Jan Osborn


The interpersonal use of the “you” (the second person) in Citizen: An American Lyric commands the reader to not look away and bear witness to the interiority Black Americans’ consciousness. The essay examines the transformation of Rankine’s works that expands how double consciousness, found in Citizen, influences the creative writing space (the racial imaginary) and exposes the ongoing discrimination against Black Americans due to white privilege. Rankine’s other works Just US: An American Conversation and The Racial Imaginary compile viewpoints of both Black and white communities that remember moments that either they witnessed racist discrimination or experienced it in some form. Double consciousness is not just a simple exploration of twoness; it exposes what white social construct looks like, the interiority of everyday racism. Through conversations found in Citizen, The Racial Imaginary, and Just Us, Rankine offers a possibility that there can be an inclusive American consciousness, only if all communities acknowledge each other.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, May 20, 2024