Donald Trump has only been the President of the United States for a little over a week. It feels longer, doesn’t it? It also feels like an alternate reality, one in which our Constitution doesn’t seem to matter to the people in power.
In this repressive climate of government-manufactured “alternative facts,” there is an increased sense of urgency to dissent, to speak up, and to share our perspectives in blogs and books. As Nevien Shaabneh, the Palestinian-American author of Secrets Under the Olive Tree, said in her interview on Read Diverse Books, “I think all writing is activism. Literature is able to sensitize what has been desensitized in our society.”
Indeed, writing is a form of activism, and we must share our diverse stories with anyone who is willing to read them.
But that’s the problem. Those who are willing to read about our experiences aren’t the people who voted for Mr. Trump on November 8th. They aren’t the ones who support Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim Ban, his multi-billion-dollar wall, or his vow to strip 24 million people of their health insurance. Trump’s supporters, like the man they elected, probably don’t read much. After all, one in four Americans didn’t read a single book last year.
Thankfully, though, those people aren’t the majority in our country. They weren’t even a majority of voters in the election, which Trump lost by nearly 3 million votes (while capturing the electoral college, a legacy of slavery). I hope our words will reach those people, as well as the open-minded members of the next generation, our future leaders. I hope our diverse perspectives will encourage these people to keep up the fight against Trump’s racist, fascist regime.
I’ve been making an effort to write about my experience as a multiracial, Muslim-American. I’ve also been making an effort to read books that raise up the voices of individuals from other backgrounds, especially the ones that Trump and his supporters have targeted first (of course, he’ll come for everyone eventually, if we don’t prevent it from happening).
I am also taking other steps to resist our government’s un-American policies, as I discussed in Becoming a Butterfly, which I wrote in response to Rebecca Solnit’s powerful book, Hope in the Dark:
I’m trying to push beyond my comfort zone where I can–too many of us have been too comfortable with the status quo for too long–but I’m not going to turn into a [direct action] activist anytime soon. I’m shy, and even making a phone call to a person I don’t know makes me anxious. However, I’m willing to do that when the person on the other end of the line works in a lawmaker’s office. I’m willing to do more than that too.
Every day since Trump’s inauguration, I have engaged in as many daily acts of resistance as I can — which I’ve chronicled on Twitter to hold myself accountable — ranging from participating in my local women’s march to calling my Senator’s office.
But I’ve wondered how much of it I should share publicly, especially after my 5-year-old daughter cautioned me against public displays of dissent against Trump. She said, “Oh mommy, be careful. If he finds out you don’t like him, he’s going to make you leave the country.”
I thought about her heartbreaking words when Trump and his Death Eaters occupied my town last Thursday. My friend, a white woman, gave Trump the finger, but I kept my hands firmly by my sides, keenly aware of the cop beside me with his hand on his gun as Trump’s motorcade rolled by.
But I can’t be quiet. I need to speak up. The other voices of dissent I hear on a daily basis give me strength and comfort (thank you). Maybe eventually, together, our voices will be so loud that the powers that be will have no choice but to listen.