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Syracuse University Libraries

Living Library: 2021 Living Library Books

The Syracuse University Living Library is an event that encourages people from different backgrounds to talk with and learn from each other in a safe and supportive environment.

2021 Living Library Books

We were pleased to offer the following "living books" for our virtual Living Library event, which was held on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 from noon-5:00 p.m. EDT.

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Braving Creatively and Unapologetically: How I Broke the Silence of Shame


Shame is society’s way of keeping the disabled community siloed and silent--but vulnerability can break that silence. For me, drawing became a practice where I could break that silence and bridge the silos between a culture where I could be unapologetically myself and also challenge what most people thought is only a medical diagnosis. Dr. Brené Brown’s work has transformed my life, and guides my work as a disability advocate, drawing artist, and higher education professional. “Letting go of who you are supposed to be and embracing who you really are" is a fight that many, including myself, face every day. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s courage in its purest form and a dimension of diversity that is more sustainable than just acknowledging difference.


1-3 p.m. EDT

Disability, Queerness, and Popular Culture


I am a queer disabled graduate student pursuing my Master of Social Work at the Falk College of Sport & Human Dynamics. Before I got into social work, my background was in English and creative writing. Analyzing pop culture is one of my favorite pastimes, and the representation of queer and disabled persons in media is a passion of mine. I have an “invisible” disability that is mirrored in supernatural or fantasy settings. Why do queer people find such comfort in fantasy and sci-fi? Join me in discussing how the “other” is the most welcoming space.


noon-3 p.m. EDT

Disability in Comic Books and Popular Culture: “Cripping” the Comic Con


Cultivated from scholarship and fandom, I seek to engage others using my own perceptions and experiences of such characters as Deadpool, Batman, Oracle, the Joker and more. Learn more about the symposium “Cripping” the Comic Con and representations of disability in other popular culture outlets.


2-4 p.m. EDT

Diversity in Comics and Graphic Novels


For over twenty years, I have collected interesting comic books and graphic novels. By interesting, I don't mean your standard DC or Marvel stories or collections of Peanuts and Doonesbury. Instead, my collection includes a graphic novelization of the United States Constitution; a collection of comics on abortion rights; a comic fighting book banning; multiple tales exploring sexuality and gender; and more. Independent writers and artists have been creating unique, fascinating comics on the diversity of human experience and thought for years. You just need to find them. I'll share examples from collection, why I started collecting them, how I find them, and more.


12:30-2 p.m. EDT, 2:30-3:30 p.m. EDT, 4-5 p.m. EDT

Expats and Exiles


As someone who grew up in a country that doesn’t exist anymore, I got accustomed to the reality that we all live in an everchanging world. It seems not wise for me to take anything for granted. This experience informs my work on immigrants, expatriates and exiles, especially in a transatlantic context. As a living book, I would like to share my experiences researching the story of one of Hitler’s most outspoken and influential American critics, who also happened to be an SU alumna. Dorothy Thompson was a suffragist, activist, trailblazing journalist and the first foreign correspondent whom Hitler kicked out of Berlin. The Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University holds her papers. I’d like to tell you why I think her story speaks to us today.


4-5 p.m. EDT

Infant and Women's Health Issues


In 2009, I nearly died from HELLP syndrome in my sixth month of pregnancy. My daughter had to be delivered to save my life. She weighed only 2.2 pounds and also nearly died several times in the three plus months she was in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit. I will share how these experiences helped shape the lives of me and my daughter moving forward in being advocates for the women and children HELLP syndrome and prematurity effects as well as how we became advocates for our own health in a culture where sometimes women's voices aren't heard.


noon-2 p.m. EDT

Kindness as a Human Super Power


Kindness is my superpower. These words do not come easily to me, and it is a realization that I have only recently begun to embrace. For a long time, I considered my kindness to be a weakness and personal flaw. I had supervisors who told me I needed to be tougher. Individuals who I thought loved and appreciated me took advantage of my kind and gentle spirit. Yet, as I look at my life, the opportunities I have experienced, the friendships and connections I have made, and the validation that has come to me through many interactions, the idea of kindness as a gift began to reside peacefully within me. Through continued conversation, I hope to further explore the idea of kindness as a power for good and one that can help us navigate the world. Kindness expressed is universal—a language and mindset with the potential to connect and to soothe the human spirit.


noon-2 p.m. EDT

Memoir of the First Liberians “Return to Africa”


As a Liberian, born and schooled in Liberia, I find it inspiring and refreshing to tell the story about those amazing men, women, and children who sacrificed it all to create a home for me. I feel this connection as a Liberian and also as a teacher who has taught literature for over five years in Liberia and has read so much about Liberia's history and arts. I am passionate to share what I have learned about the fantastic story of Liberia.


noon-3 p.m. EDT

Neuroqueer Culture


As a Neuroqueer, Mad, Crip, Hylozoist, Jewish living book, I have a lot of "outside the box" ideas about disability cultures and how they interact and intersect with and reflect human diversity. Poetry, music, and all the arts, and their accessibility and expression, are important ways to fight ableism, engage in solidarity, and learn from one another.


noon-2 p.m. EDT

Oh, The Places You’ll Go


I am a Black man, cancer survivor, husband, Christian, educator, poet, music producer, entrepreneur, and a student experience professional at Syracuse University. I have a unique perspective, because I currently lead poetry workshops and diversity training, and teach spoken word poetry at Syracuse University. I’m determined to show up as the best version of myself. I have persevered to make my mother, sister, and wife proud by fighting through the insecurities that could have held me from obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree at Western Washington University and a Master’s Degree at Syracuse University. This is what keeps me focused on achieving my goals to empower the next generation of thinkers, writers, and global performer.


2-4 p.m. EDT

Searching for Wonder: How a Naturalist Perceives the World


I have explored nature in places including the Mayan rainforest in Mexico, the redwoods in California, and the Adirondack High Peaks (where, as someone living with Cystic Fibrosis, I completed the "Xtreme Hike" for CF). I believe not only that "adventure is out there", but that adventure is all around us, no matter where we are. I’ve found that paying attention to the wonders around me helps me to be more resilient through life’s challenges. I also enjoy using what I notice to contribute to citizen science; when these tiny observations add up, they become a positive force for conservation. We are all scientists, storytellers, and changemakers. Through the intersection of science and story, a deeper understanding of the world is possible.


1-3:30, 4-5 p.m. EDT

Serving in the Military with ADHD


I've served in the Air Force for 17 years as a combat cameraman, public affairs specialist, broadcast journalist, and now as a commissioned officer serving as the chief of public affairs for my wing. I've seen a revolutionary shift in perception and culture from “don't ask, don't tell” repeal to mental disabilities. I was diagnosed with ADD at seven but was encouraged to hide the condition for fear of ruining chances at a career in the military. Out of curiosity and many struggles throughout my career, I've been clinically diagnosed with Adult ADHD, and I have promised to be more open about it. It's been an interesting challenge, but a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. My strengths have been a wonderful addition to my service, and they help me understand how I can interact with my team.


3-5 p.m. EDT

Zen Practice, Here and Now


What does it really mean to “be Zen about it?” It may not be what you think. As a Zen practitioner of 20 years, I’ve learned it’s not at all like the pop culture version of Zen. But it is an amazing journey of seeing things as they really are and letting go of all the things that cause us dissatisfaction. The result is an extraordinary life. Zen has not been in the United States all that long, and so we are all pioneers in creating this thing called Zen in America. My journey began as a Syracuse University student in 1977. I am now one of the Buddhist Chaplains. I’d love to share my journey with you and clear up all the misconceptions about the practice of Zen, here and now.


1-3 p.m. EDT