It’s no secret that we here at The Union are a little concerned about the incoming U.S. administration. Did I say a little concerned? I meant completely and totally and undeniably terrified. So, what can single, smart, savvy women like all of us and all of you do? Prepare for revolution.
But, revolution can take many forms. A road trip to DC or a subway ride to your local protest march. Or perhaps you plan to fume while you watch an odd assortment of entertainers in their inauguration finery or maybe in the interest of self-care, you’ll be eating brownie sundaes this weekend and binge watching Meryl Streep movies. And if so, can I come?
No matter your immediate plan, it seems clear that some kind of hard times are ahead. And what we’ll all need are ways to fortify ourselves for the fight, the one at the protest, the one to figure out how to keep our healthcare, the one to keep motivated when we’re inundated with a social media feed full of disheartening news. Any time you’re in for a long haul, it’s best to take provisions…
Read Octavia Butler
The great science-fiction writer left us nearly eleven years ago, but at least she left us with some damn good work. Read anything of hers you can get your hands on (Bloodchild, Kindred, Patternmaster), but if you really want armchair revolution, read The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents. Bonus for keeping your cool when the slogan for the zealot politician of this 1993 novel was “Help make America great again.”
Read Audre Lorde
As good a poet as she was an essayist, find your inspiration from Audre Lorde where you choose. My pick though will always be Sister Outsider, a collection of essays and speeches that are Revolution 202. Which weapon shall it be? Speaking up (The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action), righteous anger (The Uses of Anger), or clear-headed strategizing (The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House)? Lorde has them all like the champion zen master she was.
Listen to Gil Scott Heron
He was the godfather of hip-hop and the poet laureate who never got that title. If you haven’t ever listened to Gil Scott-Heron, do it now and either find comfort or frustration in his words still ringing as true as ever. He’s also as slyly funny as he is deep, so it won’t be one long slog through Depressionville. And that voice of his somehow reassures even when he’s upending your work with the realities of the struggle for justice.
Listen to The Clash
London Calling may be The Clash’s most iconic album and with good reason. The lyrics deal with race, class, and fighting on in spite of the clampdown. The punk beat, influenced by reggae, rock, pop, is also excellent to help you get any simmering revolution anger out of your system. In the safety of your own home, you could pound your fists and stomp your feet without actually injuring anyone. And if you watched Stranger Things, one Clash song might already be in your head.
Watch American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
Want to learn how to build community? How to be invested in the struggle of people who don’t look exactly like you? Grace Lee Boggs didn’t just talk revolution, she lived it and she thought we all could. As the documentary American Revolutionary shows, she believed, “We are the leaders we have been looking for. We are the children of Martin and Malcolm.”
“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” No, that is not the chant you’ll hear if you go to protests this weekend, but it could be. And the 1976 film, Network feels pretty ahead of its time in lots of other ways too, like the commercialization of the media for ratings sake, the rise of an angry spokesperson for a group of disaffected people, and the enduring fabulousness of Faye Dunaway. More of only that last one from now on, please and thank you.
And if you’re planning on leading The Revolution instead of just being a part of it, here’s some more fortification:
Read James Baldwin, Adrienne Rich, George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Federico Garcia Lorca, Viet Thahn Nguyen. Listen to The Wailers, Catch A Fire; Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life; Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On; Kenrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly; Solange Knowles, A Seat at the Table. Watch Fahrenheit 451, The Twilight Zone, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Last Night This Week with John Oliver.
Happy world changing!