Claudia Rankine, 53, was joined in the honor by leaders in
fields as varied as civil rights law and microbiology, the John
D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation said in a statement.
The annual awards are provided as seed money, with no strings
attached, for intellectual, social and artistic endeavors, the
foundation said. Grants are paid out over five years.
Rankine's 2014 book of poetry, "Citizen," which has won multiple
literary awards, was among the works cited by the foundation for
the grant. The book examines the ways subtle racism like
suspicious looks or complaints about affirmative action paint
everyday life for many black Americans.
"The first piece in 'Citizen' was written right after Katrina,"
Rankine said, referring to the 2005 hurricane, in a video
interview on the foundation's website. "I recorded all of the
CNN coverage and was fascinated by how racism colored the
"After that I began to respond to events that caught the public
imagination, mostly things like police shootings of unarmed
black men and other places of blatant injustice that clearly was
tied to racism," she added.
The group, which launched the awards in 1981, uses nominators
and selection committees to decide who gets the grants.
Recipients usually do not know they are being considered unless
they win, the group said.
[to top of second column]
Among 2016's other winners are:
** Ahilan Arulanantham, 43, a civil rights attorney at the American
Civil Liberties Union of Southern California who has worked to
protect the right to due process for people facing deportation and
expanded access to legal help for immigrant detainees.
** Sarah Stillman, 32, a long-form investigative journalist for the
New Yorker whose stories have covered topics like the kidnapping of
undocumented children near the U.S.-Mexico border and poor
conditions endured by foreign workers at American military bases in
Afghanistan and Iraq.
** Microbiologist Dianne Newman, 44, whose study has focused on
ancient microbes and the ways bacteria both shaped the early
development of the earth and how it operates in the context of
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Richard
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