On Friday, April 15 the Fordham English department hosted the 2016 Reid Family Writers of Color Reading Series. The 2016 Reid Writer was award-winning author of Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine.
The series featured a number of events at Fordham Law School including an invitation-only workshop with the author, a writing workshop for local high school students taught by Fordham creative writing concentrators, and readings by Rankine and the 2016 Reid Prize winner, Kat Sommers.
The day began with the Racial Imaginary workshop. Rankine asked participating undergrads, graduate students, and professors to freewrite about a micro-aggression that they had either experienced themselves or witnessed first-hand. The participants shared their experiences and Rankine guided the conversation, encouraging others to respond and think deeply about the implications of everyday micro-aggressions.
At the same time, two creative writing concentrators led a workshop for local high school students. With Citizen as inspiration, the high schoolers wrote about their own experiences with race.
The two groups had the opportunity to mingle and continue discussion with a reception following the workshops.
When it came time for the day's main event, the Bateman Room was filled to capacity with students, professors, and fans who came to hear Rankine's reading.
In between reading and discussing passages from Citizen, Rankine elaborated on the artwork in the book, her own everyday experiences with racism, and the conditions that perpetuate racism in the United States. She concluded her presentation with a short film about the mistreatment of people of color during interactions with police officers.
When the event was over, Rankine generously answered questions from the audience and signed attendees' copies of Citizen.
The Reid Family Writers of Color Reading Series is made possible through the generosity of Kenneth and Frances K. Reid and the sponsorship of the Graduate Student Association, and the English department and Creative Writing Program.