As published in the Red Rock News
I have been told to never lead with a negative, however I don’t think anyone would argue that the past year and a half has been difficult. So much has been politicized, and so many opinions seem to be black or white. I believe we have lost sight of the gray—the “in-between”—regarding important issues and our fellow humans. It seems we have forgotten the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s no wonder that I have recently heard more pleas for and seen more memes about kindness than ever before. Well, here is the positive! This September, Sedona International City of Peace, Rotary Club of Sedona, City of Sedona, and Sedona Public Library are working together to offer you a chance turn those negative attitudes around and explore the in-between when you read a Human Book and “Unjudge Someone” during the fifth annual Sedona Human Library.
Not familiar with the Sedona Human Library? Margaret Joy Weaver, Board Chair of Sedona International City of Peace says, “The Human Library Project is a global movement for social change. Reading a Human Book has the potential to alter one’s heart and mind regarding those in our community who struggle with all kinds of societal judgements and stigmas. We are thrilled that Sedona has longest the running Human Library event in America!”
The Sedona Human Library takes place on Sunday, September 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This free community event promotes connection and understanding and will feature sixteen live Human Books, including Gun Owner/2nd Amendment Advocate, Conservative Christian Mystic, Transgender Mother/CEO Carpenter, Wrongfully Accused White Male, Married Lesbian, Suicide to Healer, and more.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines stereotype as “a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like, especially an idea that is wrong.” Here are descriptions of several of the Human Book stereotypes who will be available:
Body Modified Addict—He was considered dumb and lived as a dropout, liar, thief, drug addict, and alcoholic. At 18, he thought his life was over when his house was raided. With a mohawk and tattoos, he receives stare-downs even though at 32 he is a loving father, fulfilled husband, and leader of both a company and a non-profit organization serving our community.
Brown Skinned Muslim—After a few months in America at 15, she removed her hijab when fellow high school students got up and moved from the table where she sat down. She was bullied and mocked with Muslim prayer calls by other students. While in Greece, she was called a terrorist by an agitated Muslim refugee. As a film major in a male dominated industry, she is often challenged when expressing her ideas.
Conservative Christian Mystic—He has experienced rejections from conservative Christians for his Mystic beliefs, and from New Thought religious communities for his conservative thinking. In speaking his truth, he has experienced isolation from friends and colleagues. He has even been called a "fascist right-winger.”
Gun Owner/2nd Amendment Advocate—A white male, he is often seen as paranoid, a red neck, a racist, white-privileged, and uneducated. As a gunowner and conservative Libertarian there are assumptions about his lifestyle that are far different from his experience.
At this year’s event, participants will attend three 45-minute sessions to “read” and talk with a live Human Book. The Book will share his/her/their story of being marginalized, stereotyped, or stigmatized. Readers will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in dialogue. This is your chance to choose “Books” who represent a negative opinion or prejudice you may hold. I encourage you to attend the Human Library event and see if your understanding and compassion increase. Maybe your opinions may shift. Let’s focus on kindness and understanding, shall we? I look forward to seeing you there!
The Sedona Human Library is free and Covid-conscious, so space is limited. Please sign-up early. Visit sedonahumanlibrary.org to register. Early registrants will be the first to select their three Books and will have the opportunity to deepen their experience with a curated list of books and movies relevant to their chosen stereotypes. You can also stop by the library to pick-up copies of the curated lists, and check-out one of the recommendations while you are there.
Sedona Public Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, supported by the Friends Of The Sedona Library, the City of Sedona, Yavapai and Coconino Counties, grants, donations, and gifts from people like you. Your tax-deductible donation can be sent to 3250 White Bear Road, Sedona, AZ 86336, or better yet, come in and talk to us about opportunities to support the library, including making a planned gift.
Sedona Public Library
Column for August 13, 2021
Written by Judy Poe, Library Director
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.