So long as oppression exists, so will resistance. And when it comes to the spectrum of resistance, there’s a place for everyone. While not everyone has to do everything, it’s important that we all do something.
In a complicated, nuanced world where so much happens in the gray, being on either end of any extreme holds temptation. Wouldn’t it be nice if things were just clear and cut-and-dried? If we could just all show up in the same place and do the same thing and see tangible results? Since oppression comes in so many forms, so must our resistance.
It’s important to have loud, persuasive voices speaking out. It’s just as important to have quieter, less amplified acts. Like any choir, it’s all in the mix. So what are some ways to resist that rest between either ends of the spectrum? What’s between the soapbox and the bystander? Here are a few ideas.
Find out who the most effective activists in your community are. Figure out something you can do that will help support them. Maybe it’s dropping off dinner for their families once a week so they don’t have to think about it. Maybe it’s mowing their lawns. Take something off of their lists so that they can keep doing important work.
Open your home for a community potluck. Invite people you don’t always invite over. Suggest people bring a dish that represents them. Have everyone share stories about the food they bring over. Open some wine. Stay a while.
Make sure everyone you know who's heading to college is registered to vote. If they’re not, help them to register. Ask them to help their friends.
Host a “Words to Change the World” book club. Select books that inspire discussion about issues such as racial justice. Ideas for books include The New Jim Crow
by Michelle Alexander, Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit, and Nobody Knows My Name
by James Baldwin. Make sure the conversation happens in a safe space.
Host an article club — just like a book club, but with articles. It’s a good excuse to read those long-form articles you keep meaning to get to.
Create an after-school book club for children in your community. Have parents volunteer to read books geared towards a younger audience. For example, A is for Activist
Innosanto Nagara and Rad Women Worldwide
by Kate Schatz.
It’s important to have loud, persuasive voices speaking out. It’s just as important to have quieter, less amplified acts. Like any choir, it’s all in the mix.
Find an organization in your community where you can volunteer with people with whom you wouldn’t otherwise interact. Every Thursday morning, my wife Grace and I wake up before the sun comes out and drive half an hour to a church that we are not members of. With four other people, including Georgine, our 90-year-old friend, we roll up our sleeves in the church’s kitchen to cook a meal for 60 people in our community who are homebound for a variety of reasons, including chronic illness. We package up the meals and volunteers deliver them. I have never been a morning person, but I’ve come to look forward to Thursday mornings more than any other day of the week.
Call your local school system, whether or not you have a child in it, and ask if they have a gender-neutral bathroom. If they don’t, set aside a few minutes a day to keep calling, or better yet show up, until they create one, and get your neighbors and friends to do the same.
Think about small ways to impact the environment and commit to at least one (for example, bring a reusable cup to the coffee shop or an empty water bottle to the airport to fill after you go through security).
If you’re making plans for a meal, choose a restaurant run by someone who doesn’t look like you. This might be an immigrant, a person of color, or someone who is LGBTQ. If there is something on the menu you’re not familiar with, ask about it.
Look up who and what your bank supports, and consider whether that bank is the right one to hold onto your money.
Buy a book by an author whose life experience has been different from yours. Read it and then give it to someone else who will also benefit from reading it.
Tell someone about your activism or share it on social media. Make yourself accountable to someone else.
Commit a random act of kindness without expecting anything in return.
The most meaningful and productive forms of resistance are the ones that you can sustain. Find yours and persist.
÷ ÷ ÷
is the author of Feed the Resistance
and Small Victories
, named one of the Best Cookbooks of Fall 2016 by The New York Times
. She has written for Vogue, T Magazine, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Saveur, SELF, The Washington Post
, and The Wall Street Journal
. She lives in upstate New York with her wife, dogs, and cat.