My Nana is not one to joke around. Like many black women her age, Virginia Louise Evans is usually quite stern and, at times, blunt to the point of cruelty. At 69, she has earned the right to say whatever she pleases.
But she was cheerful last Thursday evening, when I sat down with her to talk about the election, and about politics and blackness more broadly. We’d been laughing and chatting over pasta salad and Cheerwine for a few hours when she looked at me from across her big wooden kitchen table, which is crowded into her small kitchen. Her large brown eyes ― the eyes she passed on to my mother and me ― dulled a bit as she asked, “You ready?”
“Let’s start with what you think about Donald Trump,” I said.
Nana was born in 1947 in Lexington, North Carolina. She never attended an integrated school and graduated from the segregated Dunbar High, named after black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, in 1965. Her experiences as a black woman born and raised in the Jim Crow South shaped her political identity. She learned to see the smallest of blessings, saying that life as a black woman in Lexington wasn’t as bad as it was in Birmingham, Alabama.
Nana, like many elders, is a living link to the past. She’s wise and prides herself on knowing what she’s talking about. The first thing she noted about Trump was his lack of political experience and personal honesty.
“He’s talking about Hillary Clinton with the emails, but he never said anything about his taxes. He never said anything about messing with these young girls ― he never brought any of that up,” Nana said, her voice rising. “But he always brought up everything that everybody else had done. But nothing on him. So I don’t think he’s fit to be president. If you gon’ talk about somebody else’s deal, talk about yo’ deal.”
“I hope that he will be able to run the country without being prejudiced about anything. Because he said all through his campaigning about the Mexicans, the blacks ― and he’s racist to me.”
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