The 2019 Human Library is one of a series of programs designed to help us understand racial and cultural issues, as well as provide a starting point to open up the conversation about race in Goffstown and surrounding communities. Learn more at Community Conversation page.

See the 2019 photo album on Flickr.

Human Book Catalog for April 6, 2019

Surviving the System by Debra

"I am a woman of over 55 years who came through the orphanage system at a young age and the state foster program as a teenager. My life in the foster care system was very difficult at times. Sometime because of the stigma of 'not belonging' to a family and sometime because of the 2 younger siblings I had with me. One of which was special needs and could not communicate well with people. During my years 'in the system' I became very protective of them and it oftentimes lead to issues with other foster girls who were heartless in their dealings with a special needs child.

Being in the foster system has a stigma in the way others see you. There is a 'Throw away' mentality. No one wants you so be glad we took you in…etc. No vetting of homes took place at that time. Foster parent(s) were able to do what they wanted to the children. Punishments meted out were as follows: Physical and mental abuse. Forced labor at a young age. Lack of food and water…etc. Trust was not easy to earn and even harder to keep. If something went missing or was damaged it was the foster kid who was the first to be questioned. 'She is poor and has nothing so…She's lying…She is jealous…Even her own parent's didn't want her.'

I have struggled to 'make good' in my life without the backing of a family unit to assist me. However, where a person originates from does not define who they are. In many ways it helps shape the kind of person we can become because of the strength of will we develop in order to survive. Because of that we become the people we are today. I am now a proud mother and loving wife who knows how to care for her family."

First, but the Last by Kelly

"I think that I have a unique story and could provide some perspective on what it is like to be an elected official in Goffstown. I am a Chicago native, Goffstown former National Service member, international volunteer, wife, and dog mom. In 2018 I was elected to the Goffstown Select Board. As a Selectwoman, I have been noted as the first woman elected in over 10 years, the first LGBTQ representative and presumably the youngest elected Selectman in the history of the town. I often am questioned not on my decisions or policies but on my age and gender. I have had to overcome an astounding amount of sexism, misogyny, ageism, and homophobia in my work environment.

I believe that I possess the ability to tell my story with a positive outlook while being honest and real. I have had the opportunity to do a lot in my career and for someone so young, I believe that gives me a unique perspective on things. I am very fortunate and while I have been the first of many things, I don't want to be the last. Hopefully, I can inspire someone else to run for office or at the very least, provide some perspective on my day to day.

I've been speaking a lot with elderly residents and it would be interested to hear stories of how changing times have made them feel in this community."

Happiness Is: Benefiting from Diversity by James

"Ever wonder how to be happy? Each of us has needs and wants and having our basic needs met is certainly a foundation to happiness. But research has found that happiness and prosperity come from interaction with diverse people.

Growing up black in the south, there were times when James was followed in stores or pulled over while driving because of the color of his skin. He came from a middle-class black family who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in the 60's. He went on to graduate from Dartmouth College, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, and to work at one of the largest technology companies in the world.

This book explores a life that has survived discrimination, the threat of losing the most basic needs and the achievement of happiness through interaction with diverse people and cultures in places around the world, including Goffstown."

Tales of Gender Discrimination by Marge

"I was born and raised in a conservative white Anglo-Saxon Protestant family/community where conformity was the norm. Well, that isn't one hundred %, as my dad's family were Irish Roman Catholics. I loved them and they loved me and I didn't fully understand my mother's prejudice.

My horizons broadened when I went to junior high school and became friends with lots of Armenian and Greek classmates. Again, I didn't understand my mother's bias against my new friends, but I did begin to question all of this not knowing what to do about it. These ideas conflicted with what I was learning in church.
Then came college where suddenly I was confronted with gender discrimination, even though I didn't recognize it for what it was, taking me years to sort it all out. I attended the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and was one of seven female students in a class of one hundred twenty-one. I wish I knew then what I have come to understand now.

I would enjoy sharing my experiences of awakening and embracing the richness of diversity."

Looking Through Darkness to See the Light by John L.

"Life is a series of events and challenges and how we deal with them will define who we are. A friend asked me once to speak to a men's group and he wanted to know 'Why the hell do you get up in the morning'? To find the answer I had to reflect on my entire life.

Starting with the doctor's pronouncement at birth that I would not live more than 24 to 48 hours, I lived a 'normal' childhood. But I was living with a yet undiagnosed visual impairment. I played basketball on an undefeated city championship team in elementary school. I was captain and all-star on my high school football team. So my visual impairment didn't slow me down.

Being blind and relying on a Seeing Eye dog, going deaf, a cancer survivor and a battery pack in my chest to keep my heart going won't slow me down either. I've been discriminated against by cab drivers, counter persons at take out restaurants, church, workplace, museums, airplanes, and a variety of restaurants, but relying on faith, family and friends has always gotten me through."

The Second Amendment Must be Protected at All Costs by John B.

"I like to talk to people. I am very personable. I am willing to talk to anyone. There is not a prejudiced bone in my body.

God Himself gave me the right to protect myself, my family and my property. The founding fathers of our nation understood that right and guaranteed it in the Constitution. The Second Amendment has enabled more freedom to the world than any other right in history. My fight against second amendment attacks has been a fight for protection against government control. Wherever gun confiscation has occurred around the world, millions of citizens have been murdered by their own dictatorial or illegal governments.

Being a white male in today's society is not always easy. I have faced prejudices for being overweight, not a good speller, extremely conservative, and only having a high school education."

Drag Queens and Covered Bridges by Andre

"I'm a California boy, and when I first moved to New Hampshire, my first exposure to culture was watching a septuagenarian in drag lip syncing and dancing on stage. After driving around this beautiful state, I had jokingly told a friend, 'I've discovered the culture of New Hampshire. It's two things: covered bridges and drag queens.' He replied, 'You should make a calendar.' So I did.

Wanting to incorporate the seasons too, I spent a year shooting drag queens in front of covered bridges across New Hampshire. That septuagenarian, I experienced when I first moved, was my Miss May. My project, I feel, represents an interesting time and place where New Hampshire is culturally. New Hampshire is an interesting place. It is both very socially liberal and conservative. Certainly a place of contradictions."

Being LGBT in the Internet Age by Koie

"Being an LGBT person in the internet age definitely comes with pros and cons. I am seeing more people like me but I wish more people would use available resources to learn about us and be informed. We are seeing a lot of miscommunication and hate in the world and I think talking to real people about real experiences is a way to combat that. I very much want to have open conversations with people of all beliefs and lifestyles.

Currently, I am actually "out" only to some people in my life due to issues that have arisen because of how I identify. Starting in middle school and high school, I was told I couldn't be a lesbian because I didn't look right or wasn't popular. My identification was treated as a fad or a phase. My sister has outed me to relatives in whose homes I am no longer welcome. To them, anything homosexual in nature is disgusting.

I started questioning my gender about three years ago. Most recently I have had a lot of comments from people in my group, confused as to how I appear and who I'm attracted to. Recently I've started identifying as Queer and I hear things that people say about transgender and gay people that are incorrect and insulting. I don't always notice that they are being directed at me but I am also not out to everyone yet. I think part of why I am not is because I hear these hurtful things around me all the time."

Who Would Want To Be Known As The Lady with BPD? by Miranda

"I will be speaking about my experience and recovery with Borderline Personality Disorder, or BPD. This mental illness is (in my experience) almost always judged negatively, and that is if the person has even heard of it. I'm often met with either misconceptions ('Are you going to be a different person every time I talk to you?') or shock ('Wow! But you look so normal! Aren't people with BPD like…psychos?'). I've also had medical professionals tell me to avoid getting a diagnosis because it will haunt me for the rest of my life, and who would want to be known as the lady with BPD?

If someone asked me to list the big moments of my life, it would look something like this: graduated college, did a year of service with AmeriCorps, got my Master's degree, got married, and am publishing a book. Most people would have a similar list. These are the 'pretty' and socially acceptable big moments. What's missing from my list are the years of therapy, the hospital visits for suicidal ideation, the monthly weigh-ins, blood tests, and that extra important intensive treatment I received from 2014-2016. Living with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) gave my life a lot of big moments, but people mostly like to hear the first list. Even before I knew what to call the disordered-anxious-paranoid-self destructive thinking I knew that my second list of big moments would often get confused for big sad/scary/shameful experiences, rather than the beautiful/transformative/inspiring moments I find them to be. This book is for anyone who wants to know more about living a happy and healthy life while living with BPD."

A Mother's Love, Against Addiction in the Family by Lynn

"Addiction is a family disease affecting each family member in their own personal way. It can tear families apart. Often times family members become 'addicted to addiction,' neglecting healthy siblings and other family members, creating wedges in marriages and enabling the person with substance use disorder to dangerous levels.I felt very misunderstood when I was faced with my son's addiction.

As a business owner and involved member of the community, I felt isolated and alone when I learned of my son's addiction and the public consequences of his addiction, homeless, criminal charges and spiraling loss of addiction. I decided to educate myself on the disease of addiction and advocate for access to treatment and support those suffering. I found my voice and personal experience gave the darkness of addiction a human face. A face of the families affected. I also found that I was not alone, and many others were suffering in darkness. My passion then turned to family support groups and the strength of sharing without shame.

The importance of healing ourselves and the finding of healthy boundaries, sometimes by making difficult decisions. I found family recovery by strengthening myself with support and understanding addiction. I chose to not let addiction take from me or the rest of my family. I never gave up hope. I then formed a family support group in my community and presently work to advocate for all family support groups in the state of NH."