The Library for the Global Citizen is a library project developed by Bekezela Mguni and is one of the world's first airport librarian residencies. It will be hosted by Pittsburgh International Airport. Mguni will be the resident librarian through 2020.
More about the Library for the Global Citizen
“Certainly there are very real differences between us of race, age, and sex. But it is not those differences between us that are separating us. It is rather our refusal to recognize those differences, and to examine the distortions which result from our misnaming them and their effects upon human behavior and expectation.”
― Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches
It is important to understand the role that an airport can play in reflecting the culture and values of a city or region. The opportunity to engage the airport space to encourage lifelong learning and critical thinking offers a curious step towards relationship building and creating communities of shared values across the globe. Worldwide people hold views so polarizing that we continue harm each other, disrupt each other’s sense of personal and collective safety and often fail to honor each other’s humanity in our day to day interactions; what we see at most airports are people from literally every walk of life taking journeys, long and short, heavy with risk, mundane or miraculous, to further the narrative of their unique destinies.
We also see systems of power interacting with and impacting people of various ages, abilities, races, ethnic groups, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, immigration statuses, classes and cultures in airports. How you are treated and what accommodations are made for you at the airport can determine how welcome/unwelcome you may feel. Certain travelers will be met warmly while others suffer indignities that go unaddressed, unnoticed or are perceived as common place or normal. We have an opportunity to encourage airport travelers, workers, and those in related industries to perhaps think about each other, how we relate to one another and to reflect on how we think about ourselves by affirming and creating a space that facilitates and celebrates that.
Pittsburgh has been selected as the Most Livable City in the United States multiple times and lauded as a progressive up and coming major metropolitan area. For many of Pittsburgh’s marginalized communities, the question in response to this assessment has become - for whom is Pittsburgh the most livable? The irony is that the groups that are most marginalized in this community are people of the global majority. We must be honest with ourselves as a city and a region and ask if we truly have a commitment to exploring what it means to work and often struggle to live up to that title? Experiencing both challenges and triumphs while figuring it out.
There is not one way to address the challenges we are facing locally or globally but we believe in the power of reading to cultivate more informed, empathetic, inquisitive, thoughtful and accountable people. We have more questions than answers and we are interested in opening up space for conversations between folks who may not always have the opportunity to speak with each other and to deepen the dialogue between those folks who speak to each other everyday. This project is interested in spaces and opportunities that support all of us becoming solutionaries, to borrow the term from Asian American activist Grace Lee Boggs, which speaks to creating communities of practice that are “about redefining our relationships with one another, to the Earth and to the world; about creating a new society in the places and spaces left vacant by the disintegration of the old, about hope, not despair; about saying yes to life and no to war; about finding the courage to love and care for the peoples of the world as we love and care for our own families.” Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (pp. 99-100)
We look forward to developing a collection in collaboration with you that celebrates Pittsburgh’s contributions to the global literary community, and also elevates voices from around the world so that we may build a culture of reading that connects people in the spirit of life-long learning and has transformative impact on how we understand and choose to navigate our world. We want to nurture relationships responsibly with an awareness of ourselves, each other and a practice that honors life, and is rooted in an intersectional and anti-oppression framework. Our values for collection and community building are guided by Black Queer Feminist Freedom visions for Black people and therefore all of humanity.