At this moment in the semester, Rebecca Reilly’s Citizenship and the Other is in the midst of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and her 2015 New York Times Magazine essay “The Meaning of Serena Williams.” I had the pleasure of speaking with one of her students this week about an essay he was just getting underway. It’s mere coincidence—but to my mind no surprise—that Rankine was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” grant this week, and her response to the award is well worth reading, published in the L.A. Times. Here’s just one moment about her investment in the subject of race, citizenship, and the other:
The MacArthur is given to my subject through me. The subject of trying to change the discourse of black people being equated with criminality and murdered inside a culture where white fear has justified the continued incarceration, murder of blacks and other people of color. I do feel like I am just incidental in a certain way to the prize, and that the prize is being given to the subject — that I am completely invested in.