One of the first things I did in Donald Trump’s America was go home for a funeral. I knew when I went back I would grab my copy of Living History, if only to weep openly while I read it on the flight home. (I did.) But while I was digging around, I stumbled onto a book I bought during the Bush years, an era I’ve been thinking back on a lot in the wake of the election: Stop the Next War Now. I packed it in my bag without thinking and warned my mother not to accept any of what was about to happen as normal. “Get ready to fight,” I kept telling her. “This is it.”
I’ve been having a lot of those moments, activist flashbacks, sort of re-experiencing a lot of the things I felt when I first dove into the feminist movement head-first. I remembered seeing Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Quilt, speak at my school, and how his story taught me not only that activism could come from the pain of loss and be a foundation for healing but also that it was possible to continue letting yourself envision a better world while drowning in the depths of a dangerous and unwelcoming one. I remembered Angela Davis looking me in the eye when she spoke years later and telling me the work I was doing was part of her revolution. I remembered talking to Eileen Myles in the cafe after her book signing about how blind everyone was to sexism and how unfair it was trying to shout that it exists. I remembered crying at Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, how afterward what I wanted suddenly more than I had ever wanted it before was to watch a world unfurl that felt like we were one step closer to the promised land.
I remembered buying that book, how I didn’t know anything about it before I did, how I just saw it on display and grabbed it and thought yes if I have the power to do this I fucking will. I remembered reading Yes Means Yes! years later and becoming an anti-violence activist, immersing myself in work that felt like it had a tangible impact — work that was helping to build a world where rape and sexual assault weren’t seen as normal or weren’t so common or didn’t have to destroy us.
This election shook me to my core. That’s undeniable. I am still grieving and I don’t know that I ever won’t be. I am so fucking angry and I don’t know that I ever won’t be. But I refuse to be scared, or cowed, or defeated. I refuse to forget that Hillary Clinton won, that love should have trumped hate, that millions of Americans didn’t ask for this. I refuse to forget that none of the white nationalists “taking back” this country are what America should look like. I refuse to forget that Donald Trump lacks a public mandate, and thusly so does his entire dirtbag agenda and every single person on his Transition Team from Hell.
I refuse to stop fighting. Not now. The only answer moving forward is to lace up our boots and keep marching. The only way out is through, and the only way through is fighting like hell. The revolution is upon us. It needs you now more than ever.
There is darkness ahead. (Steve Bannon said so himself, after all.) Let these books light your path.
This Is the Story of a Bad Bitch
Some inspiration for you to use to light your torch. When you doubt you have it within yourself to make an impact, know that people throughout time have chosen not to listen to the voice of impossibility.
Recommended Supplemental Reading List: Memoirs by women who led the world.
Looking Back to Find a Path Forward
Reading about the successful and revolutionary work of other activists does more than give us hope: It gives us a blueprint. Activism, at its core, is about effecting change — and the spirit of any fight for progress is malleable and can be reshaped to help us fight our own. Learn from the people who did it first. Learn from the people who beat the odds. Learn from the people who chose courage, chose defiance, chose devotion to the greater good even in the darkest and most trying of circumstances.
Recommended Supplemental Reading List: Activism workbooks to help you build the next book-worthy movement.
Radical Thoughts for Radical People
In case you wanna get deep but also think about like, the most strategically sound ways to disrupt society. The usual.
And Just Because: Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities