Rankine has won numerous prizes, including a National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Citizen, which was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Just a few months after we spoke, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, which she plans to use to found the Racial Imaginary Institute. (The name comes from a book of essays she coedited last year.) In conversation, she is thoughtful and focused, speaking softly, with an edge of urgency. “How do you get the work to hold the resonance of its history?” she wonders. It’s a question that occupies the heart of all her books. That the history to which she refers is both personal and collective is, of course, the point.
But for me, there is no push and pull. There’s no private world that doesn’t include the dynamics of my political and social world. When I am working privately, my process includes a sense of what is happening in the world. Today, for example, I feel incredibly drained. And probably you do, too.
…we are all part of the same broken structures.
—David L. Ulin
WARNING: VERY DISTURBING***