On Resistance and Support

Last semester, I wrote a blog post about the uncertainty of the prospect of life under a Trump administration and how it might affect libraries and the communities they serve. I was determined to find ways to resist and to support vulnerable communities through library work. I thought we could all come together, write down our ideas and strategies for how to do this, and create a better world. Together, we could fight authoritarianism.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know how to do this. I’ve looked for information on activism and librarianship, trying to find a movement to join or a concrete strategy that loudly proclaims: “RESIST!” Or something that I could do or take part in that would allow me to wear my “This is what a librarian for social justice looks like” shirt. But I’m not a librarian yet and I’ve realized how little I know about politics or fighting authoritarianism. In all the YA I’ve read where a young woman leads a rebellion against oppressive forces, I’ve never come across guidelines or tips.

In December, I felt a sense of urgency, reading articles and books to prepare myself before Trump took office, wanting to be ready to help others and to fight. But, as is often the case when you start researching subjects you have little experience with, I just kept coming up with more questions instead of answers. Then the semester started and I got busy and Trump took office and I put off writing this blog post. I told myself that when I sat down to write it, I’d figure out a concrete strategy for resisting authoritarianism. A month into the semester and three drafts of this post later, I’m admitting that I don’t have a big plan of action. Nothing that I can think of to do feels like enough, especially when it feels like so many different aspects of our democracy and so many communities are being attacked. So far, I’ve just realized how little I was doing to help before and how little I’m helping now. Everything feels too small. I feel too small. But even small actions can make an impact.

So here’s what I’m going to do: Keep reading and learning and encourage others to do the same. Engage in conversations. Find ways to care for and support my colleagues. Boost the voices of marginalized people. Create spaces where people from marginalized communities feel welcome and included. Help people connect to tools and resources allowing them to achieve a greater sense of agency. Encourage empathy. Promote social justice. I’m going to incorporate these into everything I do, both personally and as someone working in a library. It still feels small, but it’s what I have to work with right now and I’ll give what I can.

I can’t fix everything right now. I will never be able to fix everything. Terrible things are happening and will continue to happen. But there are also so many ways to help support people in the communities around us and to make the future a little better. So this semester I’m asking my peers to think about ways we can do this so we don’t lose sight of why we’re here and how we can lend support: to each other, to libraries resisting, and to our communities.

-Kristin McWilliams