Reviews

Just Us: An American Conversation, by Claudia Rankine

ibi99's review

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informative reflective slow-paced

3.5

curio's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective slow-paced

5.0

rachelndlc's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective medium-paced

4.5

gabieowleyess's review

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3.0

I read this book for the Booktube Prize octofinals.

This book was extremely thought provoking. I’m really loved the media that was put throughout the book. It added to the experience. I connected with this book more than I did Rankine’s other book. I’m really glad that I picked it up!

jheinemann287's review

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4.0

The primary issue I take with Just Us: An American Conversation is that it's printed on really thick, glossy paper that seems blasphemous to dog-ear or write on but also doesn't photograph well. This is problematic since I wanted to mark on pretty much EVERY SINGLE PAGE. That's not an exaggeration. I have probably, like, 58 unreadable photos in my phone right now. Rankine crams an insane amount of stats and figures and research into this brick of a poetry(?) book, and it feels irresponsible not to have it all at the ready to reference the next time your townie cousin tells you that police brutality isn't racialized.

This is a dumb, overly simplistic thing to say, but I'm going to say it anyway. Citizen: An American Lyric was one of my favorite books of the 2010s, and I'm trying to figure out why this next one, as essential as it is, didn't rip out my heart in the same way, and the stupid analogy that popped into my head (the head of someone who teaches rhetorical analysis to high school juniors every day) is that Citizen lives in the realm of pathos, aiming for the heart, whereas Just Us lives in the realm of logos. Even the structure of Just Us supports this vision: Rankine's essays, poetry, and conversation transcripts are all on the right side of each spread while the left side fact-checks, listing citation after citation after citation. I appreciate that she lets us into her brain: how she breaks down conversations with strangers and friends, how she second guesses herself and scrutinizes her own feelings, how she cites information and then needs to check whether she's remembering correctly, how she bravely challenges her friends and documents their responses and is honest about how it's all tangled up and she doesn't know how untangle it.

In short, I definitely need to reread this. In the meantime, I feel grateful for Rankine and for everything that went into Just Us, but I miss the art pairings and poetic micro-anecdotes and genre blending of Citizen.

sujata's review

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5.0

Some poems. More vignettes. Too many of which are familiar to my own experience both comfortable and discomfiting.

rachelemm's review against another edition

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4.0

I previously read and loved Citizen and Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine so was very excited to read Just Us by the same author. Just Us feels much more personal and intimate than Rankine's previous books did. She brings us along as she carries out conversations with friends, colleagues and strangers about race in America. She confronts white people with their privilege and is at times disappointed by the responses she receives but always remains open. Ultimately, I think that is what this book invites its readers to do. Rankine is asking us to start conversations about race with people in our lives and see where it takes us. In doing so, we may learn something new, we may realise how far we have to go but we will at the very least be further ahead in the work of becoming an anti-racist world than if we remain silent.
I will add that if you are interested in this book, I would strongly recommend you get it in physical form. The book uses mixed media i.e. images, quotes, excerpts, tweets, emails etc. and I found that reading this on my Kindle I missed some of the power of having the images alongside the text as a direct comparison.
In the physical version, my understanding is the text appears on one side of the book with the images on the other side and that with each page turn you see the images in direct conversation with the text. I feel that not consuming the book in this format lessened my reading experience slightly so I will definitely be getting a physical copy of this so I can revisit this work and see if reading it in this format enriches my experience in any way.

erinmariebrinkman's review

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5.0

well-researched and provocative

hanakorc's review against another edition

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5.0

This is so different and SO GREAT. I could read this five times and continue to enjoy it and find new and different ideas to wrestle with.

Just Us is a collection of anecdotes, research, pictures, therapy sessions, poems, and diary-like entries. The end of each chapter has extensive footnotes and fact-checking. The book centers around race and privilege as told by the author, Claudia Rankine, a black woman. It is unlike any other book I've read in this space. The mix of the relational, emotional, and scientific was captivating.

I would highly recommend this! I'd also recommend reading it as a book because of the pictures and extensive footnotes.

magdon's review

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5.0

beautiful thoughtful generous thought-provoking writing. also, check out the hard cover book if you can-- equally gorgeous.