Claudia Rankine sits on stage. She has just won the 8th annual Visionary Leadership Award. Speaking calmly, taking pauses only to let her words resonate more clearly, Rankine discusses her award winning poetic novel, Citizen. “If I were more imaginative I would have made Black Panther,” laughed Rankine. Her responses to the age old questions, “are your experiences real?” Rankine composed Citizen socially. Every moment she described is obviously real. Through dinner parties and social speaking events, Citizen came to light. The crowd never waivered throughout her talk. Laughter only occurred when Ms. Rankine demanded. Moments of emotion were brief, but joyful. Her anecdote on Serena Williams brought the crowd to a stand still. Her revelation that this part was included for racial “realism” left audience members in disbelief. “I wanted people to read this part and be able to rewatch her matches in U.S. Open, to hear what she heard, to see what she saw.” Rankine concluded her talk with a thankful look towards the future. She didn't demand change, but rather ushered more to follow her. As she has already begun change.
-Journalism Apprentice, Gregory Gagliardi, SCSU Student