Claudia Rankine’s work Citizen delicately explores racism through cases of microaggressions, the interplay of images, and the narrative of injustices against black people. Through the use of the pronoun you, she subtly involves the reader, while also “disallow[ing] the reader from knowing immediately how to position themselves” (Guernica). Windell argues that Citizen limits its potential and its broadness by focusing on the black and white binary. However, the way in which Rankine structures the dynamic relations between the two groups (blacks vs. whites) inspired me to think about different kinds of conflicts that vibrate along similar frequencies, thus proving the universality of the book and disarming Windell’s critique. Conversely, Rankine’s discussion about racism stimulated me to consider xenophobia in Greece and how it thrives between two groups: refugees and immigrants on the one hand and the Greek society on the other. By exploring the links between xenophobia and racism, I realized that Rankine’s work can be used as a template to investigate other types of conflict. Accordingly, in my creative piece I applied her style and ideas to the situation in Greece. The stylistic aspects that I mimicked include the incorporation of visuals, the use of the pronoun “you” and the integration of research and other people’s words. The conceptual aspects that I mirrored evolve around Rankine’s ideas of whiteness and conflict. All of the above, helped me reveal the injustices against immigrants and refugees and the xenophobic mentality that governs the greek society. By delving into the core of this issue, I distinguished three levels in which xenophobia exist: 1) the personal, 2) the political and 3) the state/ government. Therefore, Rankine’s work Citizen can be used as a template to explore conflict in the form of xenophobia.
The historical origins of xenophobia must be traced in order to understand how and why this form of rivalry exist. As a small country that was often jostled by the rest of Europe, Greece had the need to follow the development and progress associated with concepts such as Modernization and Westernization (Dalakoglou 515). This led to the formation of elites and the glorification of notions of whiteness that have existed in Europe since the birth of Nazism and Fascism in Germany. As a direct result of that, Christianity is worshiped while Muslims and Jews are feared, foreigners are blamed for Greece’s own problems and the color of ones skin predetermines who is native and who is an outsider, thus leading to the segregation of the country and the formation of non-Western “Others” (Dalakoglou 515-516, 520). All of the above, coupled with the economical crisis and the inadequacy of the former political parties led to the rise of Golden Dawn, a political party that follow the Nazi manifesto and overtly performs violent acts against foreigners (Toloudis 39-40 ). As I present in my creative piece Golden Dawn supporter refer to themselves as “The Cleaners” and “claim to want to scrub their country clean of immigrants, Jews, bankers,gays, and international influences of any sort” (Toloudis 39). Essentially, all of the above prompted the disintegration of the greek society and the formation of two side: the natives and the “Others”. This separation is strikingly similar to the segregation of the American society into black people and white people, revealing the immense power of “whiteness” and thus “relating whiteness to humanity” as Rankine pointed out in her talk at Arts Emerson.
Mina Zanna is a first-year student in the College of Engineering. Apart from a small submission in The Guardian in 8th grade, her work has not been published. In her free time she likes to observe the world around her and express her emotions in free-style poetic writing that she keeps to herself.