Novelist Still Sees The Election Through The Lens Of Race

Jan 20, 2017
Originally published on January 25, 2017 9:06 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Presidential inaugurations are supposed to be about unity. That may be more inspirational than aspirational, rather, than anything else this year. Donald Trump will be sworn in later this morning in the wake of a divisive and ugly campaign that perhaps describes the deeply partisan era we're living in. We're hearing different perspectives on Trump's Inaugural Day this morning and one of them is that of the novelist Attica Locke.

She is also a writer on the TV program "Empire," and she spoke to our own Steve Inskeep.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We called you up on the morning after the election. That sounded like an excruciating morning for you.

ATTICA LOCKE: It was, and I can't say that things have gotten necessarily better for me.

INSKEEP: What do you mean?

LOCKE: I wake up every day and think, this is how much this country can't stand black people that this has happened. Or I think, this is how much this country did not want a woman as a leader. This is how much this country doesn't want Muslims here. This is how much this country can't stand immigrants.

And though I know this to not be literally true, that it's not that simple, emotionally, I feel a sense of rejection of what Obama's presidency represented.

INSKEEP: Do you feel a personal rejection?

LOCKE: No, it's not like that. It's just how am I letting my child, my young, biracial child know that this country loves her and makes space for her and wants her to do well?

INSKEEP: OK, so how are you doing that? You've got a 10-year-old, right?

LOCKE: Yes, I do.

INSKEEP: A 10-year-old daughter - and are you talking to her about the political situation? And what are you saying?

LOCKE: We're talking about it to the degree that she shows interest. I'm not trying to bombard her with depressing thoughts about how frightened her mother is. What I'm trying to do is put Trump's election in some kind of context. I'm definitely trying to not normalize what is happening. I don't want her to think that this is normal.

INSKEEP: How do you plan to spend the next few years, politically, I mean? You've got a job but do you intend to engage yourself in some way that you weren't engaged before?

LOCKE: Yes, I mean, I think that there will be infinitely more interactions, be it correspondence or phone calls, with my locally elected officials than I've ever engaged in before. I think that I will - my husband said this is the year we're going to get arrested.

INSKEEP: Was that a New Year's resolution, we're going to go out and get arrested at some point this year?

LOCKE: (Laughter) It almost was. And he said it very plainly and he was not kidding. And he may be right. And I'm OK with that. But I'm also going to continue to be frank because there's too much obfuscation in the media - that we're not calling a lie a lie, that we're not calling racism racism. The concept of objective truth is now maybe up in the air.

And so I'm going to keep saying the truth as I know it over and over and over again. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.