Caught My Eye: Do It Anyway

Friday, September 2, 2011

When I began my summer vacation, I was gung ho to chew through the large shelf of books that I'd neglected to read during the school year. At that point, I didn't quite know yet how strenuous my job at the Washington Bus would be and how little time I would have to gnaw on dense feminist classics and other miscellany.

Of the precious few books that I did end up reading over the summer, Do It Anyway by Feministing's Courtney Martin was by far one of the best. I am a sucker for interviews about amazing activists, for one, but the book also takes upon itself the heavy task of reigniting positivity and inspiration in the activist community, which was refreshing. It acknowledges the hardships and complexities of activist work while injecting some much-needed excitement for the everyday struggle.

Since I was reading this on my way out of Seattle, it was a welcome message. For me, being at college in New York City has both provided the opportunity to become a greater activist, but has also dampened my spirits on how to get involved and connected to that work. We are even more individualistic here than we are in other parts of the country, so it's challenging even to organize the campus community, much less perform greater social justice activism that rallies city.

Do It Anyway tells you, in a gentle but firm manner, that the point is not to mobilize the entire city or rally all of the people around you, but to take pride in the fact that you are moving a small step forward in this world. It asks you to accept that you will always fail somehow with your largest goals, but that you should appreciate the small ones that do make some change. It fits well with the philosophy that I've been cultivating over the last few months of responsible positivity when it comes to doing community work. We all need to give ourselves a break.

On another note, the interviews in this book are truly amazing. They are written more like a narrative, which gives you a rich little piece of their personality as well as outlining the work they do. And the book respects the diversity of social justice movements that exist in the United States, ranging from addressing class privilege from the top down to providing safety nets for women in the military who experience sexual violence. Overall, the book covers a swath of American activism in all its different forms and then tries to connect them up with an underlying message. As someone who advocates intersectionality, I smiled to see these pieces side by side in the same book.

Bottom line? I encourage you to read this book for your own pleasure and perhaps your sanity. If you care about social justice and activism in any way, shape, or form, you will get something out of reading this book.

Read more of my book reviews, including my thoughts on Colonize This! and Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists.