We Heard Health Care (audio only)
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Copyright © 2011 by Claudia Rankine. Used with permission of the author.
Imagine them in black, the morning heat losing within this day that floats. And always there is the being, and the not-seeing on their way to—
The gloom is
the off-white of white. Because white can’t know
what white knows. Where’s the life in that?
Where’s the right in that? Where’s the white in that?
At the bone of bone white breathes the fear of being,
the frustration of seeming unequal to white.
White portraits on white walls signal ownership of all,
even as white walls white in.
And this is understandable, yes,
understandable because the culture claims white
is owed everything—a wealth of inheritance
a system insures. In each generation
Sometimes “I” is supposed to hold what is not there until it is.
Then what comes apart the closer you are to it.
This makes the first person a symbol for something.
The pronoun barely holding the person together.
Someone claimed we should use our skin as wallpaper knowing we couldn’t win.
You said “I” has so much power; it’s insane.
And you would look past me, all gloved up, in a big coat, with fancy fur around the collar, and record a self saying, you should be scared, the first person can’t pull you together.