Claudia Rankine explores race and racism in the arts

By Carolyn Ali

Poet Claudia Rankine talks about race, Blackness and art at UBC
Photo: Paul Joseph/UBC Brand & Marketing

What is the role of art and artists in society? How does society react to works that address race and racism?

These are just two of the questions that Claudia Rankine addresses in her talk as part of “Thinking While Black”, a speaker series by The Phil Lind Initiative at UBC Vancouver.

Rankine is a New York Times bestselling poet, National Book Critics Circle award winner and professor at Yale University. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, as well as two plays and numerous video collaborations. She also established the Racial Imaginary Institute for writers, activists and artists to examine the social constructs of race.

“I’m surprised that people haven’t turned these tropes that white people use against Black people on their head. They were constructed to silence Black people, so why not just hand them back?”

Claudia Rankine

Watch the full talk below, which took place at UBC Vancouver on January 15, 2020.

Moderated by novelist, poet and sound performer Kaie Kellough, the discussion spans collaborating on artistic projects, and the differences between fiction, playwriting and poetry. Rankine also shares her take on the current racial and political climate in North America.

The “Thinking While Black” speaker series continues online in November 2020 with talks by Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning historian and author, and Jesmyn Ward, a MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner.

Check The Phil Lind Initiative website to sign up for the talks

Carolyn Ali is a staff writer for UBC Brand and Marketing.
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