Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen blew me away a few years ago and I recently stumbled onto a mention of this 2004 work, essays mulling over a post-9/11 world, a post-2000 election world, a world where Saddam Hussein is pulled humiliated out of a hole in the ground, a world where Amadou Diallo is shot 41 times while holding a cellphone, a world where Louima was sodomized with a broomstick in police custody, a world where her sister lost her husband and children in a car accident, a world where prescription drugs are available for anything and everything you need. She goes to the Museum of Emotion in London and plays a game that asks yes/no questions, as long as you answer correctly you can keep playing. The first question asks if you were terribly upset and did you find yourself weeping when Princess Diana died. Rankine truthfully says no and is booted from the game. “Walking out, I couldn’t help but think the question should have been, Was Princess Diana ever really alive? I mean, alive to anyone outside of her friends and family—truly?”