Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Poverty and Homelessness

For July’s virtual book club, we’ve decided to continue our series on difficult topics – this week’s is homelessness and poverty. We’ve curated a book list to spark ideas and conversations, local organizations that need your help and support, and a list of questions and resources to help you examine your own privilege.

If you’d like to check out any of the books below, just click on the cover to be taken to Hoopla, one of our e-book platforms. All you need is your library card and PIN, and you can check any of them out at any time, no waiting!

Books to start the conversation:

Local organizations to support:

The City Mission

Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless

Family Promise of Greater Cleveland

Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program

A Place 4 Me

Focus Cleveland

Examples of Socioeconomic (Class) Privilege:

  1. I assume I will be able to meet my basic needs. I take having necessities for
    granted.
  2. I buy what I need and want without worry. I can afford luxury items easily.
  3. I do not fear being hungry or homeless.
  4. I am free of the burden of debt.
  5. I have the freedom to waste.
  6. I can manage to know only people of similar class background by exclusively
    frequenting places where such people gather — neighborhoods, schools, clubs,
    workplaces, etc.
  7. I evaluate others and recognize those of similar class background because I was
    taught to do that kind of evaluation.
  8. I can avoid spending time with people whom I am trained or have learned to
    mistrust and who may have learned to mistrust my kind.
  9. I can hide family secrets and family failures behind the doors of my home.
  10. I am in control of how I spend my time.

The list continues here, in the “Examples of Socioeconomic Status (“Class”) Privilege” document from the University of Michigan.

Find more information on the homeless and homelessness here, from the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Check back next Sunday for a new reading list on another topic that deserves our attention!

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Immigration

Welcome back to the virtual book club on difficult topics – we hope that these resources have helped spark conversations and new ideas for all of you! This week, we’re looking at another facet in the social justice sphere – immigration. Specifically, that of undocumented immigrants and people of color.  

As always, we’ve got a list of books to start your reading journey, local organizations that could use your support, and more reading to further the conversation. Click on any of the book covers below to be taken to Hoopla, one of our emedia sites. Just log in with your library card number and PIN, and you’re ready to go! 

Books to start the conversation: 

Local Organizations to Support: 

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants

Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland  

The Refugee Response 

Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland – Migration and Refugee Services

US Citizenship Privilege Checklist: 

  1. Most if not all of the time I am able to surround myself with people who share a common or collective history, who understand the norms of U.S. society, who speak the same language that I do, and who understand my culture.  
  2. I can see my nation as “default” – it is normal, everybody else is “different”.  
  3. I can view my cultural norms as universal.  
  4. I do not know what is like to have war in my homeland.  
  5. I expect people in other countries to speak my language when I travel abroad.  
  6. I can assume everybody knows, or should know, my culture (for example, “American Idol” contestants).  
  7. I can assume no one else has any of the technological advantages I have (for example, assuming others do not know how to use a computer or oven).  
  8. I can easily ignore the fact that most news stories are told from the USAmerican or Western point of view and are not a universal truth.  
  9. I assume everybody wants to live in the United States, since I have been trained to believe is the best place to live (even without universal health care).  
  10. I see people from other countries as inferior to me, even if they are highly educated and successful. 

The list continues here, in the Examples of US Citizenship Privilege document from the University of Michigan. 

For further reading, check out this summary of key findings on immigrants from the Pew Research Center, a teaching guide on refugees from the UN Refugee Agency, and a lesson plan on asylum seekers from the Advocates of Human Rights

Check back next Sunday for more of the virtual book club!

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Feminism

For our third week of the virtual book club on difficult topics, we want to focus on women and feminism. Why is that? Partly because of this statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

“In 2018, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings that were 81 percent of the earnings of male fulltime wage and salary workers.”

– from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “Highlights of Women’s Earnings 2018”

Even in 2020, women’s work isn’t valued as much as men’s – and the disparity is even worse for women of color. 

Below are books that we thought would shine a light on the experience of women in the United States. Every one is available right now from Hoopla – no holds, no waiting. All you need is your library card number and PIN. We’re also including local women-focused organizations here in Cleveland, as well as a ‘privilege checklist’ to get you thinking.  

Every Sunday in June, we’ll be sharing curated book lists on difficult topics, organizations in the area to support, and more resources to explore. 

Books to start the conversation: 

Local organizations to support: 

The City Mission

Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

League of Women Voters Ohio

Renee Jones Empowerment Center

Women’s Recovery Center

YWCA Greater Cleveland

Male Privilege Checklist: 

  1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favour. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed. [However, men who appear to come from poverty or the working class are much more likely to be turned away from a prestigious job than a middle class or wealthier-appearing man.] 
  1. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. [This is far more true for white men than for many men of color.] 
  1. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex. [But may well be due to my race or ethnicity, if I’m not white.] 
  1. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities. [“Black mark” is part of racist speech. Black Monday, black mark, black sheep of the family: all generate negative associations with blackness and Blackness. See Dreaming The Dark, by Starhawk, for more on this.] 
  1. The odds of my encountering sexual harassment on the job are so low as to be negligible. [This is much more likely to be the case for men perceived to be heterosexual.] 

The list continues here, in the Male Privilege Checklist from Arizona State University. 

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – LGBTQ+

June is Pride Month, so for this week’s ‘Difficult Topics’ virtual book club, we’re talking about another marginalized group: the LGBTQ+ community. 

All of the books below can be checked out from our emedia service Hoopla with your card number and PIN – every item is available now, with no holds lists and no waiting! We’ve included titles to educate on a broad swath of the LGBTQ+ experience, from trans to nonbinary to gay and lesbian. You can also find links to local Northeast Ohio LGBTQ+ organizations to support, as well as a link to homework for those wanting to be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community.

Books to start the discussion: 

Local organizations to support: 

LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland

Equality Ohio

GLSEN Northeast Ohio Chapter

PLEXUS LGBT & Allied Chamber of Commerce

PFLAG Cleveland

Straight Privilege Checklist: 

1. I am not identified or labeled — politically, socially, economically, or otherwise — by my sexual orientation.  

2. No one questions the “normality” of my sexuality or believes my sexuality was “caused” by psychological trauma, sin, or abuse.  

3. I do not have to fear that my family, friends, or co-workers will find out about my sexual orientation, and that their knowing will have negative consequences for me.  

4. I get paid leave from work and condolences from colleagues if my partner dies.  

5. My sexual orientation (if known to others) is not used to exclude me from any profession or organization (teaching, coaching, the military, Boy Scouts).  

6. In the event of my partner’s death, I can inherit automatically* under probate laws.  

7. I am not accused of being deviant, warped, perverted, or psychologically confused, or dysfunctional because of my sexual orientation.  

The list continues here, in the University of California Merced’s excellent Queer Ally Homework document, where you can find more ideas to consider for being a friend of the LGBTQ+ community.

Virtual Book Club – Difficult Topics – Race and Racism

In light of everything going on in the world right now, we’ve decided to pivot from choosing just one book to discuss for a whole month to sharing curated lists of books on difficult topics. Every Sunday, we’ll be linking books to help start kick-start discussion on challenging topics, as well as including links to local organizations that need your support.  We know that these conversations will be hard, and they will make people uncomfortable, but we believe that they are important to have.

To start, we’ll be looking at race and racism, especially racism that predominantly affects Black people in America. All of the items below can be  checked out right now from Hoopla with your library card and PIN – just click on the book cover!

Books to start the discussion:

Local organizations to support: 

Questions to consider: 

  • What is privilege? Who has it? Who doesn’t? Why do some people have privilege while others don’t?
  • Name some examples of White Privilege.
  • Where do these privileges come from? What can people with privilege do that people without privilege can’t?
  • What is the cost of White Privilege for persons of color? What is the cost of White Privilege for white people?
  • How are issues like education, healthcare, poverty, housing, and economic status relate to White Privilege?
  • How are societal challenges like drugs, crime, failing schools, high drop out rates, and food deserts related to White Privilege?
  • Why is it challenging for white people to think about (and do something about) White Privilege?
  • When did you first realize you were white?
  • How do you see White Privilege demonstrated in media daily?

Questions from Chicago Theological Seminary. Click that link to find their White Privilege Glasses Discussion Guide, which has many helpful links to further reading and discussion.