I bought this compilation of essays, edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians, shortly after the 2016 elections. I was wondering just what the title says, “what do we do know?” And, then I put the book on my shelf because I was feeling too many raw emotions. Recently I thought, “I’d better read this before it’s obsolete.” Well, the good news is, it isn’t likely to ever be 100% obsolete.
The editors divide the essays into eleven topics, so it’s likely that what matters to you may be here. They range from media to lgbtq to racial justice, and more. And you should know, this is a book with a liberal perspective. It includes essays from well-known folks like Bernie Sanders, Gloria Steinem, and Elizabeth Warren. And also some others you may not be as familiar with. Every one of the authors has gobs of experience in the realm they write about.
The primary message answers the titular question with, “we fight back.” But every essay has its own perspective, some more passionate and others more focused on specific action steps.
My favorite essay on the passionate end of the spectrum, came from the controversial Linda Sarsour. Sarsour is a Muslim-American political activist. She says, “The minute you decide this is normal, this is just how it is, the minute you decide that appointing a white supremacist to one of the highest, most influential positions in the White House (and a long list of them follows, and I don’t mean Trump)—that is the minute you give up.”
I also appreciated the final essay, by author, publisher and education activist, Dave Eggers. Titled “None of the Old Rules Apply: Travels Through Post-Election America,” it’s a cogent analysis of why the election went down as it did. And it holds up even two years later.
Some of the essayists’ predictions have come true already, both in the positive and negative. I personally figured out what to do, and worked hard during the midterm elections for a local candidate for Congress. Even though my candidate was defeated, I met some amazing people. And we didn’t stop working for the values we believe are important.
If you’re inclined to read politically, I’d suggest this book. It’s not long and you can pick and choose which essays draw you in. For me, the whole thing was worth my time.