microaggressions, racism, African American studies, African American identity, anger, foreignness, native, systemic racism


This analysis investigates Claudia Rankine’s redefinition of foreignness as the fragmenting force of microaggressions that splinters the African American identity. This fragmentation has implications that shatter and reconstruct the traditional understanding of the African American self, the source and fallacies of both white and black anger, and what it means to be native to mainstream American society. Ultimately, Rankine asserts that the foreignizing nature of microaggressions is a socially constructed form of oppression. This foreignness breaks the African American identity into easily accessible subhuman caricatures that leave the black identity in a ruptured state of cognitive dissonance. While making coherence nearly impossible, this state of cognitive dissonance allows African Americans to recognize white supremacist threads in the tapestry of Western truth that the non-self-examining white American cannot apprehend. White anger that seeks to uphold this Western truth consequently upholds its white supremacist foundations both simultaneously and blindly in the form of microaggressions. Conversely, black anger as a response to these fracturing forces is evidence and an assertion of humanity. To be human is not to be native, however, and white Americans are classified as the only natives to mainstream American society. Rankine reveals that to be native to this society is to be unable to distinguish between one’s individual and historical identity.

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