Welcome to social justice activism—here are some titles to get you started.
February 2, 2017 | Category: Good Reads
In what has been a tumultuous and (for many) a difficult start to 2017, a pattern is emerging. From urban centers to town squares to airport concourses, ordinary people are coming together as one to make their voices heard. We might see protests as a sign of troubled times, but they also signal a resurgence of American civic engagement.
For many the protests of the last few weeks are the first step on the path to a lifetime of activism—and several Sasquatch titles can help you on your way. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-time protester just beginning to get into civic activism, these books can help you focus your organizing power, use your idealism to fuel concrete goals, and maximize your impact.
If you want to turn marching for women into a lifetime of activism and achievement, Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color offers a crash-course in feminist history and a vision for how today’s feminists can move forward. Integrating letterpress artwork with archival materials, Dead Feminists is as unconventional, innovative, and ultimately inspiring as the diverse women it celebrates. It’s easy for activists to get caught up in the moment, but Dead Feminists puts contemporary activism in historical context, connecting modern-day feminists to a long lineage of women striving for progress.
You may have heard that “all politics is local,” and often the best way to dive into activism is to start in your own backyard. Becoming a Citizen Activist: Stories, Strategies & Advice for Changing Our World is a playbook for new and aspiring rabble-rousers, drawing on author Nick Licata’s storied career in activism dating back to the 1960s. Seattle readers will know Licata as an 18-year veteran of the City Council, and one of the city’s most effective and inspiring progressive leaders. Licata combines his idealistic vision with clear-eyed pragmatism and an eye for nitty-gritty details. Becoming a Citizen Activist guides up-and-coming progressives through news media outreach, community organizing, the most effective (and not so effective) uses of social media, and interacting with local political figures. Whether you want to fight city hall tooth and nail or just give it a push in the right direction, Becoming a Citizen Activist will give you the tools you need to change your community for the better.
Perhaps you know what you think isn’t working with the status quo, but you want to clarify your vision for what would work. The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government lays out a new framework for thinking about society and government. Instead of thinking of people as cogs in a hierarchical machine, The Gardens of Democracy argues that society is an interdependent ecosystem—that our own best interests are tied up in the well-being of everyone in society, not just us. Provocative and optimistic, this book is a call-to-arms for progressives to take a more active role in civic life. (Fans of this title may also be interested in The True Patriot, a short e-book from the same authors, which argues that progressives shouldn’t be afraid to think of themselves as patriots, and that constantly striving to improve your country is in fact the highest form of patriotism.)
It’s always the right time to get more involved in the well-being of your community. Becoming an activist is a chance to connect with like-minded people and turn your vision for a better world into concrete, achievable tasks. Read around, explore your strengths, and decide what forms of activism and civic engagement work best for you. We’re all in this together, and we’re all better off when our friends and neighbors organize to amplify our voices.