Human Books Return

Check out a human book and change your life. By Jenn Salcido

Books are nothing short of magical. You can travel across continents from your chair, learn a new skill and even become a better person. On March 30 from 1 to 5 p.m., you can actually check out a human book at the Human Library event at Roger Williams University.

Amy Greer, chair of last year’s event and youth services librarian at Providence Community Library, describes the second-annual presentation of the worldwide event as a beautiful experience. Last year, 226 one-on-one conversations took place. Rhode Islanders connected with human books of all walks of life in “simple, respectful, candid conversation,” says Greer.

For this year’s event, chaired by Janet Fuentes, more than fifty human books will gather to speak on their diverse experiences — from being a transgender father to a man who dedicates his life to teaching others the benefits of eating insects.


Living on the Hyphen of Being Iranian-American: 
“I used to hide the fact that I was Iranian. If anyone asked, I preferred to say Persian. That way, people wouldn’t conjure images of U.S. flag-burning zealots. Now I don’t hide; I proudly tell people that I am an Iranian, one of the most successful immigrant groups that have come to this country’s shores.”

Openly Gay Politician: “Once 
I made peace with myself that being gay was okay and I could live my life honestly, a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt liberated. I live my life as an openly gay married man who happens to be a business owner and state legislator.”

Becoming Blind: “At the age of thirty, I lost my eyesight due to complications from diabetic retinopathy. Because of what I have accomplished since that time, I serve as a positive role model. I did not let losing my eyesight stop me as I eventually earned a doctorate in history from Boston College and have been a professor of U.S. history at the Community College of Rhode Island for the last fourteen years. Despite the adversity that individuals like me have experienced, we still live fulfilling lives.”

Ex-Felon: “My resume reads like two lifetimes of experiences: four formal educations, community involvement, several certifications, more than one language, computer literacy and more. So why is it that I fear when applying for work at a new facility? Ex-felons are a class of people to be shunned. Society may not care to believe that anyone in this class is worthy of a real second chance, but I will tell my story.”

“Color-Struck” Like Zora: “Lighter skin, darker skin and discrimination by members of one’s own race: This is a subject we don’t discuss. It started during slavery between house servants and field servants. Because of my lighter skin, I have been discriminated against, even by people of my own race. I would like my readers to understand how this form of discrimination came about and why it is imperative that we as a people begin to work hard to make happen what the late Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about fifty-one years ago.”