The Beat Within, a San Francisco prison writers’ workshop, asked inmates around California to reflect on the upcoming Donald Trump presidency. Some responded with poetry and rap. Here’s an abridged and slightly edited selection.
Honestly, I don’t think there will be any negative change. I think a lot of people have a false interpretation on Trump but I believe the country will be in good hands. If no one gives him a chance to change the country, than how can he? I compare this to us, who are wards of the state: if no one gives us a chance to change—how can we?
-Tino, San Bernardino
[After Trump won] I felt like the world was going to end. He disrespected my religion, so I don’t like him or what he believes in. But I got to work with him, so it is what it is. In Juvie, the staff were trying to be funny about Trump, which really set everybody off. People were kicking doors constantly, trays [were] flying…The fact is, jails and prisons are [made up] primarily of minorities. Trump gets NO LOVE on this side.
Trump wasn’t supposed to win this election, but Hillary Clinton messed everything up for us because Trump had a lot of dirt on Clinton. A lot of voters …didn’t really trust her running the country. Is American really going to be great again? Or is he making people believe the American dream? Trump is a dumb person, but he knows smart people to bust the moves he can’t do.
‘I Was Relieved Hillary Didn’t Win’
The morning after Trump got elected I got a text from my Mom saying, ‘Good morning, we’ve entered a new dark age.’ Little did she know I was relieved Hillary didn’t win. Throughout the election I frequently voiced my opinions in favor of Bernie Sanders. I realized once it came to the Democratic Convention that there was no way he had a chance and I would just support Hillary. That changed when Wikileaks revealed the emails from DNC leaders and how they were screwing over Bernie, giving him an unfair chance at being on the ballot. This showed me how shady and crooked the Clinton campaign was, so I threw my support over to Trump. [But I was worried]for fear of what my peers would say.
Even now that he is the president-elect I still don’t talk about my support for him. I am not a racist, not a homophobe, not transphobic, islamophobic or any other thing Trump supporters are called. I just want a president who isn’t necessarily politically correct and most importantly one that will shake up the establishment (Bernie Sanders originally). What I’m trying to say is, regardless of who you vote for, you should wish to see your president succeed, because if he doesn’t then it all comes back to affect you.
-My Thoughts, Marin
I have a big day [coming] that will determine whether or not I will be charged as an adult. It’s hard for me to know that I lack the power to choose my fate. I hate that I keep putting myself in this same damn place: jail. I hate it. I know I can do good in here, but the real program starts when I get home. The worst part about jail is when someone you care for is sick and you can’t be by their side. But we miss out on so much more—fresh air and sunlight, people, rain, holidays, fun, family, your kids first step, your best friend’s last step, funerals. I don’t think that people who have never been to jail know what it’s like.
Now we have Trump becoming a “law and order” president. Like, let’s put more people of color in jail or let’s send them back to their own country. Let’s build more jails and get them all off the streets. I’m speechless that people voted for that man to be president. I wish people were less ignorant.
[Dear President Obama:] Please figure out a way to stay our president, because Donald Trump is going to kick me and my family out and send us to Mexico. Thank you.
-B, San Mateo
I don’t know what is going to happen to America when Trump takes office. I hope he doesn’t start WWIII. Even though voting this year turned disastrous and not what sane people wanted, I think America’s voting future will turn for the better. I will vote for our next President, in four years time. Will you?
‘We are Better Off Not Having a President’
We are better off not having a president. Not having a president would look like our house senators and representatives would be running the nation.
I feel like damn near everything that will happen with this country now relies on people who may ruin [the] good things this country has going on for us. Things that Obama started doing and the accomplishments that have been done to help us become better. The things Trump has been discussing doing with the country are not things most of us agree on.
People will lose faith in America’s government.
I do not want Donald Trump to be president. Honestly he does the most outrageous things and wants the most unreasonable things. He’s just going to make our economy worse.
-Benjamin, Santa Clara
Thinking to myself is this a dream or is it reality?
Donald Trump’s number one.
I pray to God that it’s not reality
because if it is I might lose my sanity.
-Breeze, Santa Clara
‘I Hope No One Will Get Hurt’
There’s going to be more fighting and wars and more deaths. I was not myself when I watched Donald J Trump voted in as our next president. When I went to school, my friends were happy about that and I was frozen . [Over] the next few days I knew that I had to just get over that and just be happy and don’t let that make my life horrible. I just [hope] that no one will get hurt over voting for Trump.
I feel Trump will benefit a lot of things that work in our favor, but I feel he is in it for himself and his kind.
Another reason I dislike Trump is he is trying to make laws for people who are incarcerated to make more people get in trouble.
The staff in Juvenile Hall tell us that we don’t want to be in here when Donald Trump’s elected, because he’s gonna make it worse and the halls bigger.
When I heard Donald Trump won, I screamed so loud. After all the stuff he said he’s going to do, they put him in a position to run our country. I can’t understand why the voters would vote for him. You let [in] someone with no heart for women, no feelings for the people, run us!
Two steps forward, one step back
That’s how the saying goes
America has turned things upside down
By electing someone like Trump
Especially after electing Obama
We had finally taken a step forward
One that was long overdue:
Our first black president
Now we have Trump
Another white male
Now we have turned the saying upside down:
One step forward, two steps back
‘Let’s Pray and Hope for the Best’
Maybe he will bring good to this country and make it a better place. Better future, let’s pray and hope for the best.
-Kincade, Portland Oregon
I am worried that Trump will cause a WW3 with his racist and sexist actions. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it a try and see how it works out, what we shouldn’t be doing is causing riots, fear and pain to other because you are not happy with the vote toll.
-Isaiah, Portland Oregon
I was happy Trump won. I was in good spirits. What went through my head is how good it would be for the economy and it will be a chance to build America to a respectable nation. I’m not worried about Trump nor was I surprised he won the election. Yes, I do believe I have had a chance to process everything that is going on in response to the election. Myself and school teachers have common views on Trump as our president, because he is a good business man and reflects great leadership skills. I personally like that Donald Trump won due to people in society starting to pay more attention to what’s going on in our country.
-Nate, Portland Oregon
Donald Trump only wants to work with the rich people, not the poor people. The world will change a lot from my perspective. It will affect many families. Trump wants to cut Obama’s services when a lot of people need that extra support.
-Veena, Los Angeles
When I first found out that Donald Trump won, I was surprised and sad. I knew what he was planning to do with the Mexicans and I thought about my mom because she is Mexican. It made me nervous and upset. My initial reaction was bad because I can’t believe he won and is President of the United States. Now that Donald Trump has been elected president I have been really worried because he is racist against blacks and Mexicans. If I were President I wouldn’t be racist toward anyone. I would help everyone that needs my help. That’s why I would like to be president, to help everyone in the streets. I would make shuttles for them. I would give Mexicans their papers so they could work and feed their families.
-Jacky, Los Angeles
I anticipate that our country becomes better than it is now—meaning less violence. Hopefully Trump will make it better. I don’t know how much ** our world would change but it needs to change in every way.** I feel like the world would get worse because nobody wanted Trump to become President. Now that he is, everyone is upset and the violence may or may not increase.
Hopefully it won’t affect me or my family at all. Even though I hope it doesn’t, I feel it still will.
-LaJohnae, Los Angeles
The two people that ran for president this year
Had me thinking either way the country’s path was unclear
We had Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
I was torn up inside because they both be tripping
Either way I thought we were still losing
We had two messed up options, what was the point of choosing?
One believed in eight-month abortions, one wants to build a wall
I thought, either way, the country might take a big fall
I was sure racism was in the air that they were breathing
Taking a bunch of pictures with blacks saying they not, so we can believe ‘em
Donald Trump had a charge on him and that charge was rape
But this the guy that’s about to live behind the White House gates
Hillary Clinton got government official information on her private email
If you hack into you can get our country’s information in detail
But these the people running for president this year
Got me scared thinking now my future is unclear
I know I need an education , I gotta be smart
Because this year they gonna keep the dumb in the dark
I gotta help my own community ‘cause Donald don’t care
He barely cares for his self, man, look at his hair
He got a smile that tells you, “You know I don’t care”
People gotta look out for the people and not stand clear
-Celese, Los Angeles
Most people didn’t vote, that is one of the reasons Trump won the election. The people who voted for Hillary Clinton could have won, but electoral votes decide the election.. I feel like there is going to be more racism, riots, fights, and other bad things. So I feel our world is going to be much harder. Especially for the black economy.
-Morris, Los Angeles
The world will change for the worse because he is racist. They call it the United States for a reason. Every race is united. Wherever you come from we are all equal. He is putting money where we don’t need it and he has no experience. We need someone who is a voice for everyone and has a lot of experience. Donald Trump is a new booty president.
-Johnny, Los Angeles
My reaction to Donald Trump winning the election is that I was mad and sad because he is going to try to send my mom, grandma, and most of my family back. This is why I was sad and the reason I was mad was because he is talking smack to everyone that is not white and also because he said he is going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for the wall.
-A Sad Latino, San Bernardino
The world is going to change completely, he’s bringing in a team that has lots of racist allegations in the past and it’s stirring up lots of controversy. I believe things are going to change for the worse because he hasn’t talked about things for the youth.
-Melvin, San Bernardino
He doesn’t care about our future, only his. That’s how he is going to make America great again.
-Efrain, San Bernardino
He said “we will make America great again.” I expect him to keep his promise. When Donald Trump was elected, it meant that this country can rebuild itself or destroy it as one.
We the people have to cooperate with Mr. Trump because he can really do great for the country. Either way, whomever gets elected, we expect the same, which is, make our country great again. So Trump if you ever see this, make the promise of making our country great again; keep it!
-Eugenio, San Bernardino
I have to be open minded. I give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt.
-Jasion, San Bernardino
‘Donald Trump is Going to Be a Good President’
I think that Donald Trump is going to be a good president for the United States. I think he’s going to put a lot of finances into the U.S. I think he’s going to help the people in need. I believe Mr. Trump is going to focus more on the low and middle class people. I personally believe he’s going to shock the world.
-Jamonte, San Bernardino
Honestly I don’t think there will be any negative change. I think a lot of people have a false interpretation on Trump but I believe the country will be in good hands. If no one gives him a chance to change the country, than how can he? I compare this to us, who are wards of the state: if no one gives us a chance to change-how can we?
-Tino, San Bernardino
I had an argument with my mom about the election. I wanted Hillary Clinton to win and my mom wanted Trump to win. She kept trying to say that the only reason why I wanted to pick Hillary was because of what people were telling me. She didn’t want to pick Hillary because she said she didn’t want a president that was a liar. We kept arguing, and she said that she was giving up on me because I never listen to her. I got angry that she was giving up on me so I went back to the unit in a bad mood. The reason I was mad was because she was right, I never listen to her. That’s the reason why I’m here; because I didn’t listen.
-Johnathon, San Bernardino
‘This World is Being Taken Over by the Devil’
I feel this world is being taken over by the devil (aka Trump), but you know what, we can’t let that happen. We have to fight, don’t let anyone bring you down. Reach your goals and fight for success, God is with you every step of the way.
-TyRose, San Bernardino
I am a woman who’s against his election
I am a woman who feels Donald disrespected.
I am a woman who will hold her head up.
Like Hillary Clinton said women are powerful so forget Donald Trump.
-Sarah, San Bernardino
It ain’t right why we voting on a clown named Trump that ain’t nice
Talking out his neck, not showing any respect
Saying this and that just to get another check
Speaking upon blacks, like he’s been through the stress
He couldn’t make it in the field if he was on his last breath
Boom boom boom
Clip was full, now nothing left
Strong minded youngin
Nothing more, nothing less
Started from a rookie into a pro
Now I’m a vet
I’m a hard headed ninja
I grew up on the set
Straight from them trenches
Walking to the lonely
Just know when you see me I’m going to always have it on me
-Buddy, San Francisco