Humans of Cranston

Posted 9/6/22

Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston residents’ community involvement, diversity and unique life perspectives.

Taino Palermo (he/him/his) is a recent …

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Humans of Cranston


Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston residents’ community involvement, diversity and unique life perspectives.

Taino Palermo (he/him/his) is a recent Roger Williams Law School graduate and director of legal aid and policy at the Center for Indigenous Peoples Rights.

“I’m Tai – Taino Palermo. I am actually on the Board of Trustees for the library which is why I have an affinity for the library. I am currently the director of a legal aid and policy center for Indigenous people called the Center for Indigenous Peoples Rights. It’s something I started with a colleague of mine after finishing law school – a passion of mine is trying to understand the intersection of law and Indigenous people’s rights nationally, internationally. I have a personal connection to it as an Indigenous person from a U.S. territory in Puerto Rico, so it’s kind of unique to think about what it means to be Native American from a U.S. territory that’s not a state.

That’s kind of my private practice specialty, American Indian Law, Indigenous people’s rights. But I’m an educator at heart…. I enjoy teaching and I think I may stick with a private practice around Indigenous Peoples Law with the policy center and the pro bono law center, but I think I will probably get more involved in teaching more at the law level. Before law school, I had an entire career built on community and economic development stuff. I’m originally from New York City – the Bronx to be specific. I moved here in 2014 when my wife finished medical school. She did her residency in psychiatry at Brown, and we fell in love with Rhode Island. I always say it’s an ex-New Yorker’s dream because you’ve got everything (the ocean, the urban environment, the art, the culture, the food) without the traffic….So we bought a house here in Cranston.

I’ve always had an affinity for libraries because they’re anchor institutions. They are hubs in communities that remove barriers to access everything from media, to the internet, to books, to culture, to events and things like that. Libraries, hospitals, educational institutions – these are things that are critical to a functioning community.

It’s [Cranston’s] really diverse …. I was driving with my wife to the hospital because my baby was born premature so he’s in the NICU, and so we’re driving to go see him in the morning and we’re turning the corner on Pontiac and driving by the bus stop and I’m pointing out to her ‘look at all the kids.’ There’s white kids, there’s Black kids, there’s Hispanic kids, and they’re all chilling and conversing before going to school. And so I was like, ‘that’s the kind of diversity I want my son to be exposed to.’ … It [diversity] only makes us stronger and richer as a community.

Doing a lot of community work and being over-attuned to the ugliness and realities of the world we live in, I guess I was pleasantly surprised and also warmly surprised at how neighborly Cranston is. The day we moved in, four neighbors on my block came, gave us their numbers and introduced themselves. We’ve been on vacation and someone has called the police to come check on our house because they thought our door was cracked. They walk by our house everyday and knew we weren’t there, so they wanted to make sure everything was secure. While my son was being born, we had family members staying at our house for the past three weeks and they would walk my nephew around the neighborhood and Garden City and people would be like, ‘Oh, I see you walking around the neighborhood, are you new here?” and so it’s very welcoming and neighborly and very surprising – but in a great way.”

This project has been made possible by a Rhode Island Foundation Community Grant, and the efforts of the OneCranston Health Equity Zone of Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. in partnership with the Cranston Herald and Timothy McFate. Want to nominate a Cranston resident to be featured? Email JB at jfulbright@comcap.org.

Palermo, humans


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