Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s rallying cry for the Trump age

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We’ve heard a lot of prescriptions for how to behave in the wake of what was for many of us a devastating election. We’ve been told to come together behind our president and respect the office. We’ve been told to try harder to understand the pain of white people who voted for Trump, and deemphasize the pain of people of color and women who are terrorized by his rhetoric and policies. We’ve been told not to overreact, that his future behavior may defy every ounce of evidence he’s shown us of who he is and what he stands for.

A lot of these prescriptions are outrageous and downright offensive to those of us who are prepared to fight and will resist any effort to normalize Trump. Feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers an eloquent rallying cry for how to respond and how to reflect on what happened:

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

I wanted to yell “YES!” with every sentence. Read the whole thing here.

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Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

3 thoughts on “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s rallying cry for the Trump age”

  1. “Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. ” YES. I absolutely believe this is right.

    However, I also believe that what can get lost in these discussions is that the need for empathy is not about charity. It’s not about reaching out b/c we want to be nice people. It must be done firmly rooted in what we stand for, and in our own self-interest. We need folks who are working to reach out, and the people doing that crucial work often get a bad rap in these conversations. And we need the folks who are more engaged in the fight (rather than reaching out) to be thinking empathetically throughout our movement. If nothing else, it can only make us wiser, and stronger. And I personally believe our political culture will get increasingly dangerous for marginalized folks until we learn to transform this dynamic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that some outreach needs to happen, and there are questions about whose responsibility that is. There’s a need to understand that some people are not up to doing that outreach, and shouldn’t be expected to. I think what resonates particularly about this article is that the mainstream conversation expects so much empathy for white people who voted for Trump while giving the opposite to women and people of color who are being blamed for the situation rather than acknowledging that their pain is just as valid.

      I certainly recognize that I am quick to anger on these sorts of things, and I’m glad there are people like you who are working to also pull us back toward an empathetic approach :).

      Like

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