How to be a MacArthur Genius

Steve Sailer writes: The MacArthur Genius grants were announced and they’re the usual weird collection of legitimate nice white lady scientists, such as microbe researcher Diane Newman of Caltech, and hilariously shameless race hustlers, such as Genius T. Coates last year and this year, Claudia Rankine, a poetry professor at Pomona College, who won for her collection of microaggressions she and her friends say they have suffered. From the Wikipedia article on her award-winning 2014 book Citizen: An American Lyric:

The book consists of seven chapters interspersed with images and artworks. The first chapter details microagressions that have occurred to Rankine and her friends. The second chapter discusses the YouTube character Hennessy Youngman created by Jayson Musson, and discusses racial incidents in the life of Serena Williams and her public image. The third chapter features more microagressions and the nature of racist language. In the fourth chapter Rankine writes of the transition of sighs into aches, the nature of language, memory, and watching tennis matches in silence. Chapter five is a complex poem on self-identity, interspersed with more microagressions. Chapter six is a series of scripts for “situation videos” created in collaboration with John Lucas on Hurricane Katrina, the shootings of Trayvon Martin and James Craig Anderson, the Jena Six, the 2011 England riots in the wake of the death of Mark Duggan, Stop-and-frisk, Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final, and the verbal error during Barack Obama’s first inauguration as President of the United States. The seventh chapter ends with “Making Room”, a script for a “public fiction” about finding a seat on the subway, and a list of African-American men involved in recent police shooting incidents that concludes with the phrase “because white men can’t police their imagination black men are dying”. The seventh chapter is a complex meditation on race, the body, language and various incidents in the life of the author.

… These factors, subtly and metaphorically penned in the first paragraph grants these citizens a means to press forward against the subtle microaggressions, which, metaphorically speaking, is a wake for them in the very wake of the book. … The first chapter immediately transfers the reader into a black persona who is quickly becoming invisible by the harassment of microaggressions. The necessity of tolerance ascribed by blacks, that is, in these occurrences even are subjected to children in grade school. Still consistent with second person perspective use of you, the short narration is of a child: “You”, who experiences a microaggression by first a student who is copying her work throughout the school year, and secondly, from Sister Evelyn, who never acknowledges the blatant incidences. “…… The microaggression described here is that, you are unworthy of a genuine acknowledgment of gratitude.

Chapter 3[edit]
This chapter, similar to Chapter 1, is composed of events in the form of micro-aggressions. … This form of micro-aggression reference is common throughout Citizen. …

Rankine refers to her own personal micro-aggressions and others of importance in real world situations that might have seemed flagrant. … Then continues to describe more moments of micro-aggressions. … ‘Did he just say that?’ ‘Did I just hear what I think I heard?’” (Believermag). These questions refer to responses made by Rankine throughout Citizen after instances of microaggressions. The way in which both the black body and the heads hold a history of racism and question instances of microaggressions supports Rankine’s purpose of relating the history of slavery and racism to the present form of racism in the form of microaggressions. …

2014 National Book Critics Circle Award (Poetry) winner[11][12]
2014 National Book Critics Circle Award (Criticism) finalist[11]
2014 California Book Awards Poetry Finalist[13]
2015 PEN Center USA Poetry Award[14]
2015 New York Times Bestseller[15]
2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry[16]
2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry[17]


* Apparently there is now an African American set-aside for MacArthur awards. It appears that the criteria for winning is is similar to that for Acadamy Awards, i.e., “Never go full retard.”

In the case of the MacArthurs, full retard would be, ““Burnin’ down shit ain’t going to help nothin’! Y’all burnin’ down shit we need in our community. Take that shit to the suburbs. Burn that shit down! We need our shit! We need our weaves. [Pause] I don’t wear it. But we need it.”

The winning approach would be the one followed by Genius T. Coates and Claudia Rankine. Just retarded enough for black studies.

* THEONION: “ALBANY, NY—According to friends, the $500,000, five-year, no-strings-attached MacArthur Fellowship awarded to Jim Yong Kim earlier this month went right up the 43-year-old scientist’s nose. “Kim’s efforts to eradicate drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis in Russian prisons and Peruvian ghettos amazed everyone—as did his appetite for top-grade cocaine,” Marisa Amir said Monday. “As soon as that first check arrived, Kim was on the phone with his dealer, and two hours later, he was in a hot tub full of strippers.” His first installment of money gone, the scientist then returned to the task of developing a whole-cell cholera toxin recombinant B subunit vaccine.”

* I’m considering writing a book about all the microagressions committed by black people. Remember when urban black males walked around with giant boom-boxes on their shoulders blasting rap? Thanks for sharing, yo.

Wonder if I’ll get a MacArthur grant?

* What will Rankine decide to wear for a Halloween costume?

* The amount of cant in the MacArthur winner descriptions deserves its own award.

I particularly enjoyed this one:

Joyce J. Scott

Jewelry Maker and Sculptor repositioning beadwork into a potent platform for commentary on social and political injustices.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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