Hey everyone, today I’m bringing another book review. I cannot remember how I came across this book; maybe it was on Instagram, and since she’s an immigrant, I thought I would love to have her on my podcast. So, I reached out, and I was able to get an interview!
I cannot wait until the episode is released! But for now, I’ll leave you a review of her book For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color.
Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez was born in Nicaragua and moved to the United States with her family in elementary school. She is the founder of Latina Rebels. She studied at Vanderbilt University, earning her Master of Divinity.
The book starts with a letter to brown girls, telling us that we matter, that we are going places our families didn’t go, and ending by stating that we need each other.
Here are a few things that stood out to me in this book.
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Chapter one is called voluntourism, a term she uses for missionaries. Prisca shares about getting her picture taken by missionaries without her consent and how she feels about that. This reminded me of the book A Just Mission: Laying Down Power and Embracing Mutuality, where Medkes talks about how people go on mission trips and take videos and pictures without consent. In my book review, I expressed how I had always had trouble with that. So, now I’m reading the perspective of someone who actually had that experience.
Prisca shares why she calls missionaries voluntourism and how the United States intervened in Nicaragua, exploiting its resources. I had always heard about the United States intervening in Latin American countries, but I had yet to look into the history and what exactly they did. I’ll definitely continue to do more research on this.
Chapter two is called colorism, and Prisca shares how her mom always told her not to get so much sun. And it reminded me of all the colorism and racist comments I would hear from members of my own family. Colorism is so ingrained in our (Hispanic) culture that the exact phrases are used across Latin America and the Caribbean.
I, too, would hear phrases like, “Marry lighter so you can better the race,” I’d get comments all the time about straightening my hair so my hair would be “done.” Because wearing your hair curly wasn’t considered nice or done. I’ll have to write about my experience growing up hating my curly hair because of the comments in another post. I would hear comments like a woman is good-looking for being a “morena” or dark-skinned girl. And I always thought, why can’t she just be good-looking? Why does the color of her skin matter? But it’s because we are conditioned to believe that lighter skin looks better.
For Brown Girls
In each chapter, she shares her experience with each topic. When she talks about the church she grew up in and its customs, it reminds me of my husband’s stories about the church he grew up in. I remember reading a page to him and him nodding to everything that was common, from Prisca’s experience to his. And it’s wild to think about how she said she grew up in a nondenominational church, but my husband grew up Seventh-Day Adventist, and many of the traditions, customs, and beliefs were the same. Prisca and my husband had a lot of unlearning to do.
I recommend this book because it discusses a specific experience in the United States. I genuinely believe not everyone experiences this country the same way. This country offers different people different things, and I think it’s important that we learn about as many experiences as we can. To be empathetic and compassionate, and to understand that our experience isn’t the only one.
With Love, Heidy
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