Do It Anyway

I’m usually a bit reticent about seeming too self-promotional, but in this case, I’m confident that everyone in the Feministing community deserves to know about the work of the activists in my new book, just released today, called Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists.

In it, I profile eight diverse people 35 and under–from a 7th grade teacher in the Bronx, to a social issues filmmaker, to a radical philanthropist living in Philly, to a famous actor and advocate who has traveled from a squat in the Lower East Side to the most elite spaces of Hollywood. I’m advocating abandoning the empty “save the world” rhetoric that so many of us were raised on and getting real about what it takes to find that sweet spot where one’s biggest gifts meets the world’s deepest needs.

To get a taste of the kind of extraordinary, ordinary folks I wrangled to be involved in this project, check out Nia Robinson, environmental justice activist from Detroit:

Excerpts of some of the profiles have already gone live at Guernica (Maricela Guzman, veteran and sexual assault survivor) and Mother Jones (Raul Diaz, prison re-entry social worker) if you’d like to get a taste of my approach in exploring the work of these incredible human beings.

Part of why this book is so important to me is that I feel as if the mainstream media rarely highlights the work of ordinary people, instead opting to shine a bright, blinding light only on people who have been able to draw on extraordinary resources or had wildly lucky and successful lives. This distances all of us, alienated us and makes us feel like we probably shouldn’t even attempt to live an ethical or activist life if we can’t cure cancer by the time we’re 21 years old. Instead, I wanted to feature people who are amazing, but totally relatable, people that you can imagine hanging out with, people that you may even see a bit of yourself in. I want this book to be inspiring in a humble sort of way.

Another note of interest for the Feminisiting reader: I see this book as entirely feminist, but you probably won’t find that word used throughout the entire thing. Intersectional feminism is inherent in everything I do. When I profile Dena Simmons, who teaches 7th grade in the Bronx from a feminist perspective, I may not call it a “feminist profile,” but it certainly is. When I talk about Maricela Guzman, creating an organization with other women to help stop military sexual assault, I’m essentially looking at feminist activism, but I don’t have to label it that. I’ll be interested to see if the media coverage of the book picks this up, or misses my feminist lens entirely.

In any case, I’d love to hear what you think, and I hope you’ll be moved to support the work of the activists profiled in the book, and/or find your own path towards an everyday, sustainable life of good works.

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