Check out a book that walks and talks during Saturday's Living Library. Presented by the Houston Public Library and the Center for the Healing of Racism, the Living Library is made up of more than a dozen members of the community who will have a give-and-take conversation with readers on a variety of topics.
Each person is a book with a title that reflects his or her personal story. Cherry Steinwender, co-executive director of the Center for the Healing of Racism who is African-American, is After the Loving. "Now most people think of something sexual -- after the loving. But I chose that title so that I could call attention to the Lovings, the couple who took their case to the Supreme Court for blacks and whites to be married in this country. I'm going to talk about my 28-year marriage to a blonde-white-blue eyed man."
Other books are Detours to Death Row (an anti-death penalty advocate), The Casserole Disease (a dad raising a son with bi-polar disease), and Life After 9/11 (a South Asian man facing the aftermath of September 11th). There's also Raising Children that Look Like President Obama (a white woman married to an African immigrant raising bi-racial children) and Keeping My Right Mind (a light-skinned black man who grew up during Jim Crow era), among others. Readers can reserve a thirty minute slot with the book of their choice.
During the session, readers can ask the book what their life is like, what obstacles they face in today's society, what they believe -- it's all up for discussion. Discussion, mind you, not argument.
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"The books are there to tell their story, not to argue," says Steinwender. "We never get caught up in debate or arguments, because that doesn't change anything. Besides, bottom line, it's my story so how can you debate my story?" she laughs. "If you cross the line, the book will tell you, 'That chapter is not in this book.'
"The guidelines say that you can not damage the books, that you have to return them in the same condition in which you received them, so you can't hurt the books in any way." That includes shouting matches.
But Steinwender doesn't expect any confrontations, and is sure the event will be as successful here in Houston as it has been in Europe. "We're so happy be able to be in on something so cutting edge, so fantastic, such an incredible way to educate people."
Explore the reality behind the stereotypes Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Houston Public Library Central Library, 500 McKinney. For information, call 832-393-1313 or visit www.houstonlibrary.org. To RSVP, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Free.