Everything Is Terrible But This Will Make You Feel Better (We Hope)

Martín Espada gathered with other poets and musicians on the eve of the 2017 inauguration for “In Dark Times There Will Be Singing,” a community event in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and a nod to Bertolt Brecht’s poem of the same name. The group wanted to be in community, call for action and share thoughts on our current political moment.

The standing-room-only event featured a variety of local performances — among them Espada’s “Alabanza: In Praise of Local 100, an ode to the food-service workers who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks. I was moved by his stage presence and delivery of the poem. It reminded me of the importance of telling the untold stories of people whose lives are so often overlooked and excluded from a media narrative that tends to focus on the experiences of wealthy white folks. The event reminded me that I must continue to support independent community-based news, art and other forms of information sharing.

As I joined the crowd I felt inspired. I felt lifted up by the people in the room and the artists who tap deep emotional reservoirs in their audiences.

This week the Trump administration began a blitz of activities, appointments and directives that embrace racism, sexism, xenophobia and other forms of hatred. It’s essential that people around the country tap their own deep emotional wells and push back.

Together we must refuse to legitimize or normalize the actions that pose serious threats to our friends, families and neighbors. We must fight for our rights to connect and communicate, to tell our stories on our own terms, and organize.

We’ll feel a range of emotions. We’ll see real consequences unfold. And in the face of so much problematic policy with dangerous impacts we need to hold on to the things that inspire us — moments that bring us joy, things that remind us of the love we have for ourselves, our families and friends … and fuel ourselves for the long haul.

Many of us at Free Press are channeling our inspiration into a campaign launched earlier this week: 100 Days of Disruption. The campaign features a daily dose of activism during the first days of the Trump administration. Today’s action is about seeking inspiration to sustain ourselves so we can fight to maintain an open internet and an adversarial press as tools in the fight for liberation.

So now we want to know: What inspires you and keeps you going? Is there a particular song, book, poem or moment in history you come back to? Tweet your inspirational fuel using the hashtag #Disrupt100.

Here are a few things keeping the Free Press team going:

Song: “Stand by You”

My heart is full of love for all of our undocumented immigrant and Muslim brothers, sisters and children as well as our LBGTQI community and communities of color. These groups are at the center of the new administration’s most evil and unwarranted attacks. I want them to know that they’re not alone, that I’m not only standing with them but ready to walk through hell with them. This is not just their fight, this is everyone's fight, and together we are stronger.

“Even if we can't find heaven, I'll walk through hell with you,” Rachel Platten sings. “Love, you're not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you.” —Jessy

Book: We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation

Tackling current social issues and telling stories of activism, Jeff Chang’s latest book is an essay collection with race at the center. He gets underneath stories, digs for details and puts a personal touch on his storytelling — writing a page-turner I didn’t want to put down. Check this out if you like in-depth, passionate writing about contemporary social justice issues. —Mary Alice

Social media: The #Twisistance

Rogue Twitter accounts from U.S. federal science agencies/national parks that are tweeting facts about climate change and the history of U.S. internment camps. These are the small forms of resistance that get me through the day and make Twitter madness more bearable. —Lucia

Speech: Sophie Cruz’s speech at the Women’s March, Washington, D.C.

With young people like this speaking up, there’s so much hope! Sophie Cruz says, “Let us fight with love, strength and courage so our families will not be destroyed.” —Amy M.

Podcast: On the Media: Rebecca Solnit on Hope, Lies and Making Change

This is an interview with writer Rebecca Solnit about why despair makes sense as an emotion, but not as an action. Talks about finding hope in the darkness. Rejects optimism (“everything’s going to be alright no matter what”) as well as pessimism (“everything’s going to hell no matter what”) because they give us excuses not to act. History tells us that we have the power to change the things we commit ourselves to changing. It definitely kept me grounded. —Dana

Song: “Quiet”

Singer MILCK released this song during the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. She performed alongside a group she had just met. Their harmonies rise up alongside the voices and bodies of hundreds of thousands who marched for human rights. The lyrics touch on the importance of speaking out and avoiding damaging tropes encouraging us to be silent, small, divided and alone. The result is a beautiful song with a fitting chorus: “I can’t keep quiet, no no.” Give it a listen — and check out the amazing images documenting the sea of people who gathered this weekend. —Mary Alice

Book: Octavia’s Brood

A collection of short stories written by social justice activists, inspired by Octavia Butler and her wise words about the importance of radical imagination in the face of oppression. It helps break down the limits of what we believe to be possible — both in terms of how bad things could get, and also our capacity to resist and build a better world. —Dana

Signs: Tiny Protesters

Let’s not wreck the planet, OK? —Candace

Music: La La Land soundtrack

As a news junkie who’s constantly immersed in disturbing content in the New Yorker and online, I need other kinds of art to keep going. I’m now fixated on this beautiful and life-affirming soundtrack. In the first days of this hateful administration this music is helping me brace for the fights ahead. —Amy K.

Meet-Up: My Local Love Brigade

I live in Vermont, which is “the little brave state that says ‘no’ to hate.” This group bands together when there’s an incident of hate and responds with giant helpings of love. We rally and respond with cards depicting love and messages of support. There are card-making parties and it means a lot to gather with neighbors, create art and send sunshine to someone experiencing injustice. The idea is catching on — there are now Local Love Brigades in five states! —Sara

Tour: Sojourner Truth Walking Tour

This tour of historic abolitionist sites in Florence, Massachusetts, highlights two people, David Ruggles and Sojourner Truth, who sought justice even under the most brutal circumstances. Both were members of a mid-1800’s utopian society where they had votes equal to the white male members. They helped hundreds of slaves move through the Underground Railroad to freedom, a journey that often ended in Florence, a terminus of the network of people supporting former slaves. I was so inspired by the activism of Ruggles, Truth and the countless people who sought justice and humanity at a time when it was extremely dangerous to do so. I was also inspired by the work of local activists who have painstakingly uncovered and told the stories of Ruggles’ and Truth’s time in Massachusetts — stories that media accounts, history books and local narratives have all too often sought to erase. —Mary Alice

Action: Greenpeace Banner Flies Over the White House in Washington, D.C.


Articles: A series of recent stories about public protests is keeping me going.

On the women’s marches

On the protest targeting the GOP retreat in Philadelphia

On the upcoming scientists’ march in D.C.

On the people’s climate march slated for April 29


You. Seriously. Although I feel like I cannot keep up with all the bad things happening, there’s a similarly overwhelming feeling about all the things you’re doing to fight back. So here’s to rogue national parks, Teen Vogue, Greenpeace’s banner drop, scientists marching on Washington, mayors across America taking a stand against Trump’s attacks on immigrants, and every single one of you who is marching, calling, tweeting, reaching out and showing up. —Candace

Original photo by Flickr user Amaury Laporte