This morning I woke up and wept.
I have never felt so personally threatened by the outcome of an election as I do today. I have never so palpably felt the fear that now invades me, a woman of color. I am fearful for my reproductive rights, for this culture that tells me men may do with me what they wish, for this belief that although I was born here my skin color means that I do not belong here. People have fought and people have died so that I – my generation and all others following – would not have to feel this fear and today I question if it was all in vain.
And so I wonder, what do books matter in a time like this? My favorite activity feels trivial, tainted by worries of what lays ahead. Lazy Sundays spent pouring over the pages of a classic, rereading my childhood favorites, effusing over the latest fiction release…what does any of this matter when so much else is at stake?
Then I remember that it was in a book where we learned of the horrors facing World War II prisoners in Japan. It was a book that showed us the fear of living as a black man in Chicago. It was a book that made us question female subjugation at the hands of a totalitarian government. A book that made us wonder if Big Brother really was watching. A book that showed us how much a girl was willing to give up to protect her sister. A book where we joined a person through their family history in search for gender identity. A book where we laughed along with a mother’s efforts to marry off all her daughters. And, when all else seems lost and we have nowhere else to turn, sometimes it’s in a book about a boy wizard and his friends where we find the greatest comfort and the tiniest bit of joy.
Books teach us compassion and understanding and hope in ways that the little bubbles of our lives cannot. We have always needed this, but today we need it more than ever.
So, today let’s aim to share and love, disagree and debate with respect, teach and learn with enthusiasm, and find ourselves and others in books. Today, let’s read.