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Characters

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 156

The characters in Claudia Rankine's book-length poem, Citizen: An American Lyric (2014) include many historical or modern figures who stand as exemplars of black society. For example, Henessy Youngman, a YouTube personality who encourages his waters to cultivate a rough, black exterior. Tennis star Serena Williams is remembered for her experience as the victim of racist attacks on the tennis court, which caused her to compromise her performance. Don Imus, host of MSNBC's program "Imus in the Morning" is featured for his faux pas of calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed hos." The Jena Six—a group of blacks facing harsh persecution for the death of a white peer, which itself was provoked by racially motivated attacks—are also described in Citizen. Other figures of note featured in Rankine's book include Mark Duggan, victim of fatal police brutality, as well as Trayvon Martin, killed by a white man who was acquitted at the novel's end.

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