Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Says America Doesn’t Feel Like America Anymore

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says America doesn’t feel the same since the election. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

A few days after the election, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight to talk about the results. She was paired with R. Emmett Tyrrell, the editor-in-chief of the American Spectator, a conservative magazine. Adichie was a Clinton supporter; Tyrrell had backed Trump early on. The interview grew heated when Tyrrell insisted Trump had never been racist and Adichie shot back, “I am sorry, but if you are a white man you don’t get to define what racism is.”

Over the weekend, Adichie wrote a long Facebook post addressing the interview, saying her manager hadn’t been told she’d be on a panel with a Trump supporter. “I wanted to walk away, but decided not to,” she wrote. “I was already there. And I did want to talk about the election, which I had experienced in a deeply personal way … With Donald Trump’s win, America just didn’t feel like America anymore.”

She went on to explain her response to Tyrrell:

The interview began. I was determined to speak honestly, and not be distracted by the Trump Supporter, and be done with it and go home and never again allow myself to be ambushed in a television interview.

Until the Trump Supporter said that word ‘emotionally.’ “I do not respond emotionally like this lady,” he said.

To say that I responded ‘emotionally’ to the election was to say that I had not engaged my intellect. ‘Emotional’ is a word that has been used to dismiss many necessary conversations especially about gender or race. ‘Emotional’ is a way of discounting what you have said without engaging with it.

When Tyrrell called her “emotional,” Adichie said she felt compelled to respond — the result was a heated exchange that made headlines. “I left that interview still feeling upset,” she concluded. “But it made me better see why America no longer feels like America.”

Chimamanda Adichie Says America No Longer Feels Like America