Can you tell readers a little about yourself?
I am a grassroots Latina, foreign citizen but call Nashville home. I am living and breathing and experiencing life as a person with indigenous ancestry who lives in the diaspora. I am brown, I am loud, I am female, and I come from a working poor context – which means that people either LOVE me or HATE me. I am polarizing, because I am stubborn and passionate about helping other people who have grown up having to prioritize a white-cis-het-rich-educated-male agenda, and I go disruptively into many spaces to decentralize ALL those things.
You have a very busy life right now traveling and speaking in so many different places. I you say a lot that you are surprised life has taken off like this, can you talk about what you thought you would do for a career when you were younger?
I wasn’t raised to think that women like me could not have careers like mine. I saw other women being successful, on television and I have a few mentors who exceed all those things, but I never thought it would be me. Through public education I was told I was not smart enough, I could not write well, and that my thoughts were “crazy.” So it completely baffles me that I now have this career where I write all these “crazy” thoughts down, and people are inspired by it and strengthened by it. Growing up only affirming yourself is hard, and seeing all this support is jarring and humbling. I feel like I am living a dream, and I am just trying to keep up with what is happening around me, I am working on a book proposal, recently I was invited to the White House, I was asked to submit a story to the Harvard Hispanic Journal, and I travel a lot (once a week minimum). And I do not know how this all happened, but I do intend on getting into these spaces and continuing to disrupt, which may mean I burn some bridges but hell I got here without any knowledge that these bridges even were possible for people like me, so I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
What made you choose your current career path? Or did it sort of choose you?
I did not pick what I do. I think it sort of picked me. I started Latina Rebels during the hardest years of my life, during grad school and toward the end of my marriage. I was lost and experiencing institutional racism, all while becoming sexually liberated and woke – so I needed a place to put ALL that down and Latina Rebels came to be. And then it caught on, and it has been a whirlwind since.
What is something you have learned from your job?
I have learned that I am not alone. In Latina Rebels we highlight how complicated and dense it is to be Latina in the USA, and knowing even if just online that other people who look like me are going through similar things like I am and/or was, that is the revolution!
We are never really done growing up, what do you hope to do in the future?
I am not a planner. I did not plan for this, and couldn’t have planned for this tbh…so I don’t know lol
If you could give your younger self-advice, what would it be?
Love yourself more.
Give yourself more chances, try again and when you fail try again.
Tell everyone who doesn’t believe in you to FUCK OFF.
Stop trying to please everyone, be daring and don’t stop at closed doors.
Don’t get married young.
Have lots of sex.
Hug your mami more.
But most importantly: believe in yourself.
Why do you think it is important to tell our stories?
I think that the academy teaches us to think in ONE way, and to teach ONE way. The academy priorities linear logic, and I have thrived by undoing everything I’ve been taught and sort of go-back to basics. Using simple language to connect with people, by exposing those raw moment that hurt and that aren’t easy, THAT is important for a global impact. The academy takes that from us, but our mamis and our abuelas have always told us stories, and my indigenous ancestors told stories. That is real and it is at the essence of who I am, when you strip me of colonialism and imperialism and capitalism, I am a storyteller.
Do you have any female figures you look up to? Real or fiction.
I look up to Cristian De La Rosa, a professor at Boston University’s Seminary. She is as gente as it gets, she works hard to get scholarships for Latinx. She is about the struggle and will tire herself out for us. I hope to be like her, one day.