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Her new book “Just Us” is subtitled “An American Conversation,” and Claudia Rankine expected to have that conversation — about race, about privilege, about the whitewashing of U.S. history — with a roomful of Minnesotans at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.

Instead, the poet/ essayist/professor wound up opening this fall’s Talking Series Tuesday from her home in Connecticut via Zoom.

“This is the next best thing. I had hoped that I could speak to a wide range of people before the election to think about how we have managed to get ourselves where we are,” she acknowledged to host Kerri Miller of Minnesota Public Radio and a Fitz-sized audience watching from their own homes.

See what Rankine had to say, plus a discussion afterward with Sarah Bellamy, artistic director of St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre, which presented Rankine’s play “The White Card” last winter, and writer Rohan Preston of the Star Tribune, which co-presents Talking Volumes with MPR.