Race, boy, boyhood, manhood, age, childhood, white, black, African American


This paper explores Claudia Rankine’s work Citizen: An American Lyric and how the text applies boyhood and manhood differently to white and black males. The text subverts these terms’ straightforward relationship with actual age, instead recognizing them as reverse age categorizations. While these contradictory applications minimize black men through infantilization and expedite the maturation of black children, these same converse categorizations excuse the violence of white men. Through this distinction, Citizen exposes childhood as a subjective categorization to benefit white power. To address the resulting self-fragmentation for African American males, I maintain that the text proffers storytelling as symbolic mothering and the construction of fictive kin as a remedy.

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