Story March 10, 2022

Books for Good Trouble: Social Justice Dialogs

By San Diego Public Library Supervising Librarian Ady Huertas

One teen participant said, I felt seen, I felt loved, I grew and learned. I feel empowered!”

The Books for Good Trouble program has gone beyond the walls of the library and into the classrooms. In December, local female authors Fabiola Bagula, Theresa Palafox, Leah Goodwin, and Sinai Cota presented to a group of female students their poetry work Mujeres in Movement” featuring poems about womanism, self-love, and community. This was followed by a poetry writing exercise that reminded students about the power of their stories. A teen participant shared This program taught me to be strong and write and share my story.”

I joined (left to right) América Martínez, Rosiangela Escamilla, and Ymoat Luna for a panel discussion at the Logan Heights Library on Immigration, Families & Unaccompanied Youth.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. And, thank you to the Library Foundation for their support by donating 100 books to these programs and others in the series.

On Monday, February 28, we continued the discussion with The Sum of Us: An evening with Heather McGhee. In this online discussion with Heather McGhee, she addressed themes from her book The Sum of Us: How Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. The link for a replay of this session.

We have plans for a podcast to delve deeper into these social justice issues. We hope to launch an accompanying film series in March to feature five social justice-themed films with post-screening discussions.

We have found that this program resonates with youth. Through the discussions and feedback, teen participants reported feeling more confident about themselves and their abilities. We found 91% of participants expressed being more aware of issues in their community as a result of the program, 93% felt more confident about being involved in their community, and 90% intend to become more engaged in their community.

Another participant in the discussion about gender said, I actually invited my parents to listen to this, and they were literally awe-struck at Alok’s eloquent speech. This is an entirely new concept to them, and I’ve spent many dinners educating them on gender identity vs sexuality vs biology, etc. Alok’s presentation gave a powerful and personal approach that I think really stuck with them and forced them to take the subject seriously where before they had a more casual thought.”“I truly feel inspired and grateful to have been at this event. I am a school social work intern at a middle school,” the teen continued and the information learned at the event helps them focus more on these areas for the Pride hangouts we have at our school. Thank you!”

Author, artist, and activist Alok Vaid-Menon, author of Beyond the Gender Binary, presented a keynote address in November about gender and social expectations, rules, and false choices that stem from the concept of being binary. This event was held in partnership with San Diego Pride and the San Diego Unified School District’s Youth Advocacy Department.