I'm not usually a huge poetry person, with the exception of a few books, it's something I could take or leave. This book is most definitely the exception. Claudia Rankine writes beautifully while each story or poem also contains substance and speaks the truth to underhanded racism and how that then impacts those affected.
One of my favorite stories/poems is: "You wait at the bar of the restaurant for a friend, and a man, wanting to make conversation, nursing something, takes out his phone to show you a picture of his wife. You say, bridge that she is, that she is beautiful. She is, he says, beautiful and black, like you" (78).
This struck me in two ways. Firstly, this man is basically saying "lucky you, you're actually pretty while being black," which says that he thinks there are few black people that deviate from the norm of being ugly. He's saying that his wife and her are unique and break the barriers. That is wrong in so many ways and unfortunately, isn't the first time I've heard something like that. I remember being in the bathroom last year and overhearing three girls converse about another girl they were trying to justify that they were better over. "I mean she's pretty for being black." It was like they were tossing her pity points for being pretty considering her race. It's unfortunate that even in a pretty "liberal" or "accepting" community, there are people out there that think like that.
Going back to the quote, the second thing I took away from it is that it's almost like he's trying to prove to her that he's not racist. Like, "look at my wife, she's black so therefor I can't be racist." I've heard this same argument among friends, "She can't be racist, she's attracted to black guys." Okay and? It's not a get-out-of-jail free card. Just because you have a black friend or are sexually attracted to people of color, you're not automatically exempt from being racist.