Viewpoints on Claudia Rankine Webinar Interview Blog Post #6

During the webinar I noticed that she mentioned how helpful mentors were for her. They helped her in her literary journey and in other aspects, and I found that really cool because I felt like it showed me the benefits of having a mentor. It also showed me that everyone should have a mentor to help you. I liked when she mentioned that she was always respectful to people, because she was open to getting help from anyone. I found that influential because it showed that she valued the views of a person, she didn’t let a persons identity determine how she treats them, and I respected that. I felt like Rankine shows that in her works, and the idea that everyone should be respected even if they have a different color from you, or they have a different sexual orientation, or gender from you they still deserve respect.


When Rankine mentions her struggles from getting recognition as a writer that resonated with me because every time I fail, or an obstacle comes in my way I question whether what I am doing is the right thing. Or if I should continue doing something because I failed, but Rankine speaks about how failure is also a part of growth. She showed that failure is inevitable in any path that you choose, but it doesn’t mean the end; its just the beginning. What ever passion you have there will always be some sort of struggle, but the passion is that you overcome that struggle and you continue to do what you love. I admired that. In fact Rankine mentioned that a reporter publisher who rejected her work regretted not reading her works, and it was because Rankine spoke about cultural whiteness, a topic that was very sensitive and could be considered sensitive to this day. That showed that the rejection you received does not always mean that there is something wrong with your work. Ranking never stopped writing about the lives of African Americans in the United States, she continued to write even with the rejection because she wanted to give a voice to African Americans. She continued despite the backlash and negativity, and today she is looked up upon by many.


Rankine also always made sure that what she wrote had credible sources, she understood the meaning of credible sources and expressed how important credible sources were to her. She made sure that her facts and information were correct because she knew the power that words hold and she wanted to make sure that what she was saying was credible. It made me reflect on this class, when we were looking at the bibliography, and when we were making sure that we had credible sources. This made me think that I should view credible sources with a higher importance. I liked this Webinar because I feel like the the things she talked about was relatable and made me think about who I am as a writer, it also made me feel less alone.

Blair on Photography Blog Post #3

Position yourself.




This moment in time is important. The picture needs to be perfect. I need to make it powerful. I need to give it a voice. I need to make sure that it transcends time. I need to make sure that it moves people. 

This picture needs to be perfect. I need to show everything. The angle, the vision, the lives of people. Their lives.  Depend on me. 

This picture needs to be perfect. I need to make sure that it transcends time. Everything I do. Everything I say. Everything I capture needs to be in this picture. 

Nothing can be missed. I need to capture everything. This picture needs to be perfect because this picture…

















Blair on Ellison and photography analyzes the background history of Ralph Ellisons motives to photography. She illustrates how Ellison gave birth to the concept of invisibility through photography. Blair first states the historical contexts during the times the pictures were taken. The lives of African Americans were often ignored due to the racism and prejudice in society. Blair states “But Ellison’s negotiations of racial history and experience in Invisible Man owe an as-yet unacknowledged debt to another cultural form with which he purposively experimented: photography. His archive (at least those portions of it currently available to scholars) includes a significant body of materials that document Ellison’s life-long, ongoing interests in photographic images, practitioners, and stylistics.(4) As he notes in the preface to Invisible Man, Ellison supported himself during the writing of the novel through his work as a photographer, producing a respectable body of commissioned portraits (particularly author portraits, for use by the very same publishers he was trying to interest in his own novel-in-progress), images made on journalistic assignment, and shots of art objects for use in exhibition catalogues. Many of his communications from the late 1940s and early 1950s – the period when he most intensively rewrote the novel and shepherded it into publication – are jotted on his professional letterhead of the time, memoranda sheets that bear the inscription “Ralph Ellison, Photographer.” Sorting through various boxes and folders in which have been jumbled Ellison’s own photographs, negatives, and prints, his clippings on photography exhibitions and series, his notations on shooting style, his working instructions to himself on the niceties of light-metering, film speeds, and image composition, it becomes clear that photography was far more to Ellison than merely a day job, pastime, or mode for memorializing private events. For Ellison, photography was no less than an interpretive instrument, a resource for critical reflection on American cultural practices and norms,”(Blair, para. 2). Blair illustrates that Ralph Ellisons photography illustrated the voices of the invisible by capturing everything. Ellison’s photos makes the viewer think about the lives of African American people in ways that were not thought of before. Ellison positioned African Americans as the main character, when they are often the side character to the white lead in a “Classic Movie”. This positions the African American as the lead to the story, and gives an illustration to how African Americans live. 

Blair states “ Yet if this desire impelled any number of writers and intellectuals of Ellison’s generation, it had a particular power, and particular novelistic uses, for him. Such an argument, I should note, runs counter to the received wisdom not only on Ellison’s relations with jazz but on vision and invisibility, the core concerns of his landmark novel,”(Blair, para. 5). Blair describes the Uniqueness of Ellison by illustrated that photography was a step forward to illustrating the invisibility of African Americans. For example, Jazz artists are some of the most visible people. They always have to be in front of a crowd entertaining. But, in Ralph Ellison describes Jazz as something that transcends music. Ellison shows that the only people who could truly understand Jazz were African Americans. How could something so visible only be understood by people who have been ignored in American Society? It’s because African Americans have always been visible, they are just not seen. 


Ellison’s motives to taking photos, and comes to the realization that every action that Ellison commits has a purpose; no matter how little the action appears. Blair states “But this reductive linkage, by which the camera’s eye comes to stand for the institution of photography, occludes a significant tradition within photographic practice dedicated to probing precisely its powers and effects; further, it occludes Ellison’s multiple investments in photographic practice. Close examination of his archival materials, and specifically of Ellison’s relationship to the developing history of documentary and street photography defining the cultures of the New Deal and post-war New York, suggests quite the opposite of what his published work allows us to assume. It suggests, that is, that photography serves Ellison powerfully as a resource for the transformation of lived experience into narrative, of social fact into aesthetic possibility – and vice versa. Taking Ellison’s photographic work and interests into account, in the context of their emergence and pursuit, allows us a new purchase on the complex cultural politics in which Ellison deftly engaged. In what follows, I begin to reconstruct the meaning of Ellison’s self-invention under the sign (and eye) of the camera. I thus aim to provide an alternative, or at least supplementary, account of how invisibility was born,”(Blair, para. 6). The concept of invisibility was born because it shows the culture, the lives, the everyday actions of everyday people in a photo. The photo above illustrates people walking, it appears simple but you can’t help to wonder about where those people are going. Why are they in a rush? Was it raining really hard that day? This photo humanizes  the people in the photo, it gives a story to them. 


I am a shadow, I am invisible, I am the photo. 

Can you see me?


The very invisible visible backgrounds of Cholly Blog Post #4


“Except for the father, Cholly, whose ugliness( the result of despair, dissipation, and violence directed toward petty things and weak people) was behavior, the rest of the family – Mrs. Breedlove, Sammy Breedlove, and Pecola Breedlove – wore their ugliness, put it on, so to speak, although it did not belong to them,” (Morrison, p. 38). The invisible visible background of Cholly, they illuminate in front of the reader, through his actions. When a reader see’s Cholly sexually abusing Pecola they don’t think about his background, they think he is a monster, or that he should know better, he shouldn’t take advantage of a child. Yet, Morrison does give a background, the background to get the reader to understand that every individual came from a path. Morrison shows the reader that evil isn’t born its learned through experience. Morrison shows the background of Cholly to make the reader think about what the meaning of evil is, and whether despite the actions he commits to Pecola. The very actions that causes Pecola to delve into insanity that he also had hs troubles. The invisible visible backgrounds of Cholly. 

Cholly was violated by two white men who forced themselves upon him. They forced Cholly to commit sexual actions for their amusement, and found gratification through Cholly’s weakness. Cholly does the same to Pecola, the same power that was lost with the humiliation of being assaulted by the two White men he commits to his own daughter. Morrison doesn’t excuse the actions of Cholly, she illustrates the ugliness that is racism and prejudice in American society; the invisible visible ugliness.  Cholly finds freedom in degrading women because that same freedom was taken away from him. Cholly was attracted to Pauline because of the innocence that Pauline illuminated, the same innocence that was taken from Cholly. “Pauline and Cholly loved each other. He seemed to relish her company and even to enjoy her country ways and lack of knowledge about city things. He talked with her about her foot and asked, when they walk through the town or in the fields, if she were tired. Instead of ignoring her infirmity, pretending it was not there, he made it seem like something special and endearing. For the first time, Pauline felt that her bad foot was an asset. And he did touch her, firmly but gently, just as she had dreamed. But minus the gloom of setting suns and lonely river banks. She was secure and grateful; he was kind and lively. She had not known there was so much laughter in the world,”(Morrison, p. 115-116). Despite the beginning blossoms of their relationship and the beauty Morrison describes Cholly still ends up beating his wife.  And, Cholly does the same to Pecola, because he can, because now he is the powerful one. There is a dynamic to ugliness and beauty. Morrison illustrates the beginning presence of beauty, she mentions the flowers, often mentioning the delicacy of the flower. The flower was compared Pecola or anything of innocence, and when it was corrupted it because the soils or the environment corrupted the flower. The racism and prejudice that happens and society destroys the African American people because the system is corrupted.

“Quiet as it’s kept there were no Marigolds in the fall 1941″(Morrison, p. 3). Claudia states this and this foreshadows what happens to Pecola in the end of the novel. The Marigolds weren’t present because what happened to Pecola was the opposite of the beauty and the delicacy that Marigolds hold. What happened to Cholly when he was young, what happened to Pecola, and the prejudice and racism in American society rottens the soil of beauty. The beauty can’t grow because its not in the correct conditions, and because the soil is rotten the opportunity to see beauty in something that hasn’t been seen vanishes before it sprouts.


“The soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers” (Morrison, p. 206). This relates the prejudice and racism in American society, because the soil is good for certain flowers to grow but not for other flowers. Therefore as  the flowers that can grow, grow beautiful, the flowers that weren’t given the right environment don’t sprout. “When I first seed Cholly, I want you to know it was like all the bits of color from that time down home when all us chil’ren went berry picking after a funeral and I put some in the pocket of my Sunday dress, and they mashed up and stained my hips. My whole dress was messed with purple, and it never did wash out. Not the dress nor me. I could feel that purple deep inside me. And that lemonade Mama used to make when Pap came in out the fields. It be cool and yellowish, with seeds floating near the bottom. And that streak of green them june bugs made on the trees the night we left from down home. All of them colors was in me. Just sitting there. So when Cholly come up and tickled my foot, it was like them berries, that lemonade, them streaks of green the june bugs made, all come together. Cholly was thin then, with real light eyes. He used to whistle, and when I heerd him, shivers come on my skin.” (Morrison, p. 115).

Blog Post 5: In the eye of the beholder


Rankine, in her novel Citizen An American lyric  puts the reader directly in the story by writing in first person. In the book, the reader isn’t just following along with the events that are occurring in the books they are in the books. When you put the reader in a position where the events you list directly occurs to the reader, the way the reader interprets the story, reacts, and feels, changes. The reason why Rankine decided to write in such a manner attributes to the fact that she doesn’t want the reader to empathize with the story, she wanted the reader to truly feel it as if it were happening to them; a feeling truly unique to the individual. In making the reader feel what is happening she makes the reader think the deep questions? Why does this happen? Why am I treated the way that I am? Why does my difference become my enemy? And what can I do stop it? Rankine wanted you, the reader, to feel what its like to experience racism and discrimination in the present time, even as a memory that’s so vivid  that you remember every detail because you don’t have the option to forget. Rankine not only writes in first person but she adds pictures. The pictures play a fundamental role in two ways, the addition of pictures further puts the reader as the story but giving them a visualization of what they would see, and it makes sure that the reader understands the setting of the story. When people read their imagination is limitless, because the story lies within their mind, but the addition of pictures limits that imagination because Rankine wants to make sure that her message gets across. The addition of pictures takes the imagination from reading and turns it into a reality, because the life that the reader experiences in the story is a reality for many to this day.

When someone plays a video game they play as if they are a character in the game because they are. When their character experiences sadness, happiness, or stress the player feels it too because they are in the game as well. Similarly, to Rankine’s decision of making her book in first person, the reader feel the emotion as intensely because the action occurs to them directly. The story would be different if it were in third person, you would empathize with the character in the story, but not in the same way when you are the character. In Rankine’s Citizen An American Lyric, unlike a video game, the reader has no control, they are put into the story without the option of choosing any of their actions. The reader can’t imagine the book the same way as imagining the book in third person . Why can’t the reader control what is happening to them? Why is it happening to them?  Rankine immobilizes the reader from committing their own actions, They have to stay within the actions that she tells the reader in first person, and when the reader asks questions on why they are treated so, they illustrate the feelings of many African Americans.

Is it harder to make an opinion of an image than it is to make an opinion of a statement? When you look at a statement or a description you use the information you gathered to form an opinion. Based on the information given the reader gathers what they think the statement means. Statements allow for many people to make various of different opinions on what they think the statement should be. For example, on Bombmagazine.org, it speaks about Lauren Berlant’s experience while talking to Claudia Rankin herself, Berlant states, “I met Claudia Rankin in a parking lot after reading, where I said crazy fan things like, ‘I think we see the same thing’. She read a book of mine and wrote me, ‘Reading it was like weirdly reading hearing myself think,'”( Berlant, para. 1). One person, who is also a fan, may think that Berlant’s experience is totally different from their own. This mostly stems from a personal experience from people who have been in a situation similar to the other person. Another may agree, but they never spoke to Claudia Rankin before, so they may never truly know whether Claudia Rankin thought in the same way. Another, may simply agree. Although, what the readers don’t know is that the imagery that Claudia Rankin puts in hers works illustrates the  massive effectiveness of imagery and how it makes readers think exactly the way Claudia wants her readers to think.

Looking at the image of the cover of Citizen an American Lyric, the novel already makes a statement. The Ink balls into a circle, almost perfectly, but as you examine the head more clearly you notice that it looks more like a skull. This shows the reader that its going to be about African American and their experience. The reader can’t deny that the image looks like ink, and once you realize that the cover of the image looks like a skull you can’t forget about the fact that it looks like a skull either. It automatically makes the reader know what they are about to be reading and what the story will be about.

simple bibliography

Hunter College Libraries. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://go-gale-com.proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T002


The Theme of Marginality in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.” Dalit Literature and American Literature, PP. 137-143. Print.

Shodhanga.<http//shodhanga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10608/86690/04/03/chapter/20iii.pdf> Web. March 22, 2018.

arker. J. Bettye. “Complexity: Toni Morrison’s Women. An Interview Essay, Sturdy Black Bridges Visions of Black Women in Literature.” Ed. Print.

Hunter College Libraries. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://search-alexanderstreet-com.proxy.wexler.hunter.cuny.edu/view/work/bibliographic_entity|bibliographic_details|4385713

(n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://indivisible.commons.gc.cuny.edu/etexts/blair-on-ellison-and-photography/

(n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://indivisible.commons.gc.cuny.edu/etexts/eversley-ellison/