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Novelist Adds Fresh Perspective To Election Result Spin


And let's listen to one more reaction this morning to yesterday's election results. We have Attica Locke on the line with us. She's a California novelist who often writes about black America. She's also a writer on the TV series "Empire." Good morning to you.

ATTICA LOCKE: Good morning.

GREENE: So what are you thinking about this morning?

LOCKE: I'm not crushed. I'm awake to what my country is telling me. It is hard for me to not see this through the lens of race. I've always kind of considered racism to be America's original sin.

And so the incredible optimism I felt on the other side of Obama is dashed, that this really is a sense that this is a backlash to that. That there is a large segment of the population for whom having a black president was such an assault on their identity. That their reaction to it has no reason. It makes no logical sense.

GREENE: You really see this as a lot of Americans saying we weren't ready for a black president, did not want a black president? What exactly are you saying?

LOCKE: I think of it through the level of the psyche, I think in the sense that we are still in a patriarchy. Goodness gracious, didn't we see that yesterday? In the sense that the president is, like, the - a father of the nation or a man that we're meant to look up to. I think there's a large segment of white folks who could not take that, the idea that this person was above them in some way. I think it was very dislocating in terms of their sense of identity.

GREENE: I'm struck because I spoke to many white voters back in 2008, some of whom even talked about being former racists and overcoming that...

LOCKE: (Laughter).

GREENE: ...Who were drawn to Barack Obama and reached a comfort level with him. And what changed over eight years?

LOCKE: Well, first of all, the man's presidency has been poisoned, you know, frankly, by voices from Fox News, by a Congress that would not engage with him, by Donald Trump himself claiming the president was not a citizen, you know. So clearly that starts to rub away at a foundational understanding of who Barack Obama really is and what he has really done for eight years. I don't think that certain people can quite even see it, if that makes any sense.

GREENE: Well, let me ask you this. Donald Trump in his speech earlier this morning said that he is going to be a president for all Americans. Are you open-minded? Are you prepared to look at him as your president?

LOCKE: No, God, no. I think he was on some good drugs last night that calmed him down. But the real Donald Trump will show up in a few months. I mean, there's no evidence to suggest that the man is able to focus, engage in a way that isn't, you know, out of control in a way that I wouldn't scold my 10-year-old daughter if she behaved that way.

GREENE: The Clinton campaign was very worried about African-American turnout.


GREENE: It seems like there was - the campaign really underperformed, especially compared to the turnout that Barack Obama saw. Do you think African-Americans failed to turn out for Hillary Clinton?

LOCKE: God, no. And I will daily stop that narrative. More white women showed up for Donald Trump than showed up for Hillary. So I wouldn't say that any way black folks underperformed. I would say white racists over-performed.

GREENE: And we should be careful here because there are many Trump supporters who I've spoken to over the years who would not consider themselves racists.

LOCKE: You know what though, David? I'm out with that. There's a part of me that honestly feels like that level of politeness, where we're not calling things what they are, is how we will never get forward. The fact of the matter is that you have to at best be able to tolerate racism in your president.

GREENE: OK. I'm afraid we're out of time. I wish we could talk much more. The novelist Attica Locke, thanks so much.

LOCKE: All right. Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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