I don’t know about you, but this is pretty much my default mode these days:
Even The Onion is more depressing than entertaining lately, and that’s the least of the world’s problems.
I’ve been asking myself what I can do in the wake of Trump’s inauguration—in the wake of his bold-faced lies on everything from crowd size to voter fraud, his hateful, fearmongering policymaking, his continued vilification of the press, his dangerously short-sighted suppression of science, and a hundred other infuriating, intolerant, and irresponsible measures that threaten both American values and my own grip on sanity.
“What can I do?” is the question on my mind because, besides feeling angry, sick, and heartbroken, I’ve been feeling helpless. I’m not a lawyer, like my cousin-in-law Matt, who set out for O’Hare on Saturday on behalf of the International Refugee Assistance Project to support the travelers detained by Trump’s executive order on immigration. I’m not a reporter, like my friend Mustafa, who has worked for the last six months to promote press freedom on the Committee to Protect Journalists. Tweeting and Facebooking are active but unproductive—either preaching to the choir or stirring up a hopeless shitstorm. Donating money is productive but passive—as soon as I click “submit,” I’m antsy to do more. Helplessness does not suit me well, as I’ve learned time and again this week, and idleness even less so.
But I’m not helpless. I’m helpful, dammit, and I’m smart and I’m strong and I matter. And while I may not have a law degree or a press pass or a fortune, I do have a voice and a platform and a message. So, for everyone else out there wondering how you can make a difference, my message is this: Let’s engage in small acts of resistance.
On my quest for an Anti-Trump To-Do List, I came across this fantastic article on “20 #smallacts we can all do to protest injustice and make the world a better place.” I was a little surprised to note the source (Teen Vogue) but less surprised to note the author (award-winning novelist Celeste Ng). Her suggestions range from the obvious (call your representatives; volunteer for local charities) to the inspired (reconsider the language you use; run for office). She encourages concerned citizens, young or old, to “spread help and hope” through efforts as small as carrying reusable shopping bags, taking public transportation, and creating art.
It wasn’t long before I was coming up with ideas of my own. To the list above, I would add subscribing to reputable news sources and, especially, avoiding unreliable ones. I would also add leveraging professional resources. My employer is small, with minimal reach, but my husband works for a tech company with influence and means. I told him to send his HR rep this article in hopes of encouraging them to take a stand alongside their peers. And I told him to suggest that, at the very least, they send out an email to remind all employees that the company matches donations to 501(c)(3) charities.
Since this blog’s focus is on literature, I wanted to find a way to tie my own #smallacts back to books. Ng had one great strategy on this front:
Read (and if you can, buy) diverse literature. Books by women, people of color, LGBTQ authors, differently abled people, and non-Americans are a great way of broadening horizons and building empathy. Share books you love with others, and ask your teachers and professors to assign more diverse literature.
As I sat nodding along with Ng’s words, it hit me: Today’s exercise in #smallacts could be a resistance-themed list of All the Best Literary Links I’ve Come Across This Week. This will be my sixth—and, I think, final—list of Literary Links, dedicated entirely to the many #resistance reading recommendations I’ve encountered since the election. Some are aimed at Trump, and some are aimed at us—but all of them share the goal of an enlightened, enhanced democracy:
- Books for the Trump Era (New York Times)
- The Biblioracle: A Reading List for President-Elect Donald Trump (Chicago Tribune)
- Donald Trump Said He Doesn’t Read, So We Made Him a Reading List (Elle)
- Required Reading List for Donald Trump (BookRiot)
- 12 Books Donald Trump Doesn’t Want You to Read (Bustle)
- Nine Must-Read Books in the Age of Donald Trump (Newsweek)
- A Post-Election Reading (and Listening) List for Religious Progressives (ThinkProgress)
- The Stop Trump Reading List (Remezcla)
- The Stop Trump Reading List (Haymarket Books)
- 2016 Post-Election Reading List for Pissed Off People (Medium)