What is the relationship between literature and politics and race? Can writing be revolutionary? Can art be autonomous? When W. E. B. Du Bois was denied a passport to attend the Présence Africaine Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris in 1956, he sent a telegram asserting that “the Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.” Juliana Spahr discusses her new book, Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment, with Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen and founder of the Racial Imaginary Institute.