Reviews

Special Guest Review: Citizen

Hey reading friends! Today I have the privilege of being able to give platform to a brand new voice in writing and blogging, my friend Seyi Osundeko. Her older sister and I have been friends for years and because Seyi and I both share the same passion, I’ve been hearing about her writing journey for a while too. Seyi is branching out on her own now at a new blog, found here, but we are lucky enough to be hosting one of her reviews this week also.

Its a difficult time to jump into creating content, especially with all of the tension and stress in the world, but when Seyi sent me her review I was impressed and so happy to host it. Not only that she chose a powerful book that I love, but that she also chose to offer her own vulnerability and truth in her review, which is so much harder than it seems. She is a great writer, only just getting started, and I hope you enjoy her review below as much as I did.

Look to see Seyi featured on our blog again from time to time! We are so happy to have her. x


Hello everyone! My name is Seyi Osundeko (Shay-ee Aw-shoon-deh-kaw). I’m a Christian, a writer, and starting a PhD at Stanford in the fall. I like old movies, Broadway shows, and ordering more dumplings than I should. 

This is a strange time to join Storyeyed. I had intended to have my first review be of my favorite book: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. However, since this month has a Black Lives Matter (or if you prefer, All Black Lives Matter) theme as well, I’ll instead start with a review of Citizen by Claudia Rankine. I also wanted to share a bit of my own experience as a black woman.

I was almost stumped on what to add to Alison’s post (Ibram X. Kendi’s books are my go-to for essential American reading – read Stamped!) but Citizen is a shorter, potent piece that acts as an important underpinning for understanding what we’re experiencing as a country right now. 

Citizen is called “An American Lyric”: “lyric” in this context meaning, “characterized by or expressing strong, spontaneous feeling”. In her book, Rankine addresses the ostensible spontaneity of black anger; of Serena Williams yelling a referee, of Zinedine Zidane headbutting a player during a game, of Rankine herself sharply asking a white person “what did you just say?” Out of context, these expressions seem to “come out of nowhere”. It seems like people are just short-tempered or out of control. However, as Rankine builds on these cases, there is much more to each outburst than meets the eye. They are cases of human beings bowing under the weight of an accumulation of attacks, slights, injustices, and terrors that seem to never end.

Right now, we need to remember that we are not only fighting for George Floyd. As a country, we are in a fight each and every individual who has been harmed by the police and other arms of systemic racism. For black people, we are in a fight for our lives. 

As a child of Nigerian immigrants I wasn’t raised with any passed-down knowledge or coping mechanisms for racism. I didn’t get “the talk”; My parents and I learned about racism together. From schools. From jobs. From funerals. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve been talking to my dad about how I should raise my future children. He’s been encouraging me to try and prevent them from inheriting my anger and fear. That’s much easier said than done.

There’s a saying I’m sure we’ve all heard before: “It take a village to raise a child.” I think a more accurate way of saying that is, “the village raises the child.” Whether we like it or not, we are raised by our country just as much as we are raised by our families. We shape our community, and thus we shape each other. I don’t want to relate to my children in the future. I wish them a society so changed that my experiences will sound bizarre.

It may seem naïve, but I really do think this can start with reading. We must be educated on our history and our present so we can shape the future. 

Happy reading.

Find more of Seyi’s reviews, writing, and character analyses at pocketpages.org!

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