July Book of the Month: Celebrating BIPoC Mental Health Awareness Month

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This month’s book, For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts, is a passionate collection of essays by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez, leading Latinx activist and writer, and founder of the popular Instagram account @LatinaRebels.  Mojica Rodríguez challenges the societal norms that have perpetuated the marginalization of Brown and Black women, exposing the harmful narratives that have long confined their spirits. The considered rage with which Mojica Rodríguez recounts personal anecdotes from her childhood and her time within the ivory towers of academia reads like a battle cry for BIPOC women (and their allies) to decolonize their worldview.

Democratizing Knowledge

In For Brown Girls, Mojica Rodríguez paints a vivid and unapologetic portrait of the lives of Brown girls and women who navigate a world defined by the white gaze and systemic oppression. Drawing from her own experiences as a first generation student and Latinx immigrant, she delves deep into the complexities of identity, belonging, contemporary colonialism, and resilience.
According to Mojica Rodríguez, “Access to information changed my life,” and it was in part this desire to democratize the knowledge she gained in her undergraduate and graduate careers that spurred her to pen her debut work.  In these essays, she confronts colorism within the Latinx community, challenges the myth of meritocracy and objectivity, and explores how deeply internalized the tenets of white supremacy have become in BIPOC communities.  In this way, Mojica Rodríguez aims to show women of color, “what [we] are up against,” as folks navigate their lives in a system designed to devalue BIPOC efforts and striving.While her essays often seem driven by the invigorating spark of anger, Mojica Rodríguez also speaks about her struggles with imposter syndrome and feeling shunned by those in academic power from a place of compassionate understanding for herself and others who find themselves in similar circumstances.  She discusses the limitations that toxic machismo enacted within her own family, and her mother’s colorism-driven admonishments to avoid the sun in an effort to keep her skin paler. By sharing these personal anecdotes, she not only empowers her readers via her example, but also grounds them in the similar lived experiences of other WOC.  

A Book for Spanglish Speakers

In accordance with her desire to democratize knowledge, Mojica Rodríguez avoids use of academic-heavy jargon, and frequently shifts between Spanish and English throughout her writings – a reminder of the code-switching so familiar to BIPOC folks and immigrants.  For Spanish speaking bilingual readers, this serves as a bold message that bilingual narratives matter and deserve to be represented.  For readers who are non-Spanish speaking, it is a gentle confrontation of what it feels like to not be centered in a narrative.  It also suggests a subtle challenge, will you do the work to understand and value the author’s lived experience and perspective?  Will you take the time to research and learn a language or a concept that might be unfamiliar to you?

Decolonizing Identity

Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez’s For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts is part-memoir, part feminist manifesto that both draws attention to uniquely universal experiences of WOC and seeks to encourage those struggling in a system designed without them in mind. The flicker of anger and passion in her writing lights a spark within the reader, helping to illuminate the paths that lie ahead and inspire radical self-acceptance.  As readers delve into the pages of this powerful collection, I encourage you to embrace your own sharp edges and tender hearts – to unapologetically take up space wherever you are.

Related Readings

Find these similar books on the web and on our BookShop!

  1. Latina Rebels: https://www.instagram.com/latinarebels/?hl=en 
  2. Brown Enough: True Stories About Love, Violence, the Student Loan Crisis, Hollywood, Race, Familia, and Making It in America by Christopher Rivas
  3. You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation by Julissa Arce
  4. Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora by Saraciea J. Fennell (Editor)
  5. ¡Ándale, Prieta! By Yasmin Ramirez
  6. Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria (Author)
  7. I Am Diosa: A Journey to Healing Deep, Loving Yourself, and Coming Back Home to Soul by Christine Gutiérrez

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