The Punchlist for Productive Engagement in Trump’s America

Now that the whole series is published, here is one handy overview of the ~9 steps recommended for how to role up your sleeves and getting busy.  This is not a reprint of the whole series.  Instead, it’s a reminder — the punchlist for productive engagement in Trump’s America.  Think of it as a handy planning guide for those 2017 resolutions!

The Personal Is Political

1.  Stay Informed.

Subscribe to newspapers.  Follow Shaun King, who has the direct line on the acts of hate and violence against women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ community.   Don’t look away.

2.  Diversify Your Feeds and Your Reads.  

Read books (especially fiction) and articles by people different than you and your usual set.  Purposefully seek out voices from people with different racial and ethnic backgrounds and people with different religious beliefs and sexual orientations.  Include perspectives of thinkers in a different place on the political spectrum.  And when you find voices that are particularly helpful — a concept distinct from “particularly reaffirming” or “particularly accessible” — encourage others you know to check them out. Social media can be a powerful tool if used purposefully.


3. Have Difficult Conversations Often.

We cannot behave as though what Trump is promising to do is merely “as run-of-the-mill politics” that politeness dictates we leave alone. Force yourself to keep having difficult conversations about what you’re concerned about and why at the forefront of your interactions now, and next month, and next summer and next year.  But try to have the conversations in a manner than encourages discourse and understanding (on both sides).

Also, Protect Your Digital Self.

Local Community Activism

4. Volunteer.

Find organizations in your own communities that need help.  Set either weekly, monthly or quarterly amounts of time that you are going to allot to volunteering in advance.  Then hold yourself to that promise.

5. Coalition Build Across Difference.  

Make the effort to start building new networks in your communities.  Start small.  Book clubs, supper clubs or community projects all provide opportunities to start connecting with neighbors who you need to listen to and hear from and who need to listen to and hear from you.

6. Speak Up.  Speak Out.

Write op-eds.  Intervene when people are being belittled or harassed.  Don’t hide your views on where this country should be going.  Broadcast them.  Again, set actual goals and benchmarks for the ways you are going to speak to your community and how often and when you’re going to do it.

National Action

7. Participate Politically.

Talk to members of Congress — Senators and Representatives — often.  Use resources like this spreadsheet by Monica Jahan Bose’s daughter of more moderate Republicans who, at one point or another, spoke out against Trump in the past, along with contact information and other handy reference information.  Or this widely-circulated google document “We’re His Problem Now,” which is basically one-stop shopping on reaching all the right people.  Make it a regular part of your life.

8. Donate.  

Prioritize giving to organizations that will do what they can to protect us and our institutions.  And set up a regular donations at a rate you can afford.  Absent something automated, those payments likely aren’t going in.

9. March.  

Come to DC for January 21, 2017 Women’s March on Washington.  There are moments for dramatic statements.  This is one of them.


Katherine Kimpel

Kate Kimpel is the Senior Editor of Shattering the Ceiling and is also an accomplished civil rights lawyer. She represents women and people of color in discrimination cases (and other kinds of employment and civil rights matters).  When not lawyering, she likely is bragging about her hound dog Ulysses, inventing cocktails to serve at her next dinner party, or convincing her husband to watch reruns of a Joss Whedon television show (any of them will do). 

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