Why despair in the age of Trump means we need to know more, not less

Here’s what surprised me the most during Donald Trump’s first month in office – a period I prefer to think of as my first month with the Shadow Cabinet.

During each of the past four weeks, I’ve interviewed one remarkable woman: an immigration lawyer in New Mexico, a public-education advocate in Alaska, a business owner who promotes activism through art in Pennsylvania, and a Washington, D.C. innovator who made congressional pressure as easy as sending a text.

Before each chat, I was nervous, and not just because these women are powerful and extraordinary. I was nervous because they know so much about the problems facing our country, and are so in tune with populations and institutions at risk. I expected to learn terrible truths and come away the way I generally come away from the news: depressed and feeling helpless.

Instead, every time, I hung up the phone and practically ran up the walls with excitement. Allegra, Alyse, Maryam and Laura replaced my despair with energy.

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‘Can we bridge this gap?’

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I’ll admit it. When I picture an activist, I tend to envision picket lines and marches and petitions; if I associate it with a profession or field, it’s probably the law or politics. Activism is all of those things, but as I browsed with amazement through the website of Philadelphia Printworks, I realized that a true activist can infuse any of her endeavors with that spirit – art, fashion, business, writing, or, in the case of Printworks founder Maryam Pugh, all of the above.

The local business, which Pugh, 35, created in 2010, sells clothes in thought-provoking collections such as School of Thought, whose collegiate designs bear the names, not of famed universities, but of iconic black thinkers and leaders such as Harriet Tubman or Audre Lord. Other collections include Cats Against Catcalling, Professional Black Girl and Cognitive Dissonance – basically, these are clothes that are guaranteed to start a conversation.

Continue reading “‘Can we bridge this gap?’”