By Mitzy D. Ruelas, M.S.
Do you remember the first time you felt seen? As a Brown Latina, growing up, I felt pressured to decide whether I was going to be the “Spicy Latina” or the “Submissive Catholic Girl” given that those were the options I saw represent Latinas in the media. Maybe you can relate. And maybe you remember the first time you saw a representation of yourself outside of those boxes and outside of those stories. For many of us, it was seeing Selena Quintanilla for the first time performing in her iconic purple jumpsuit or in an interview speaking our Spanglish language. Or Aaliyah with her outspokenness and trail-blazing tendencies. For others it was Celia Cruz. Or more recently, the incredible Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
For me, it was my 8th grade math teacher. Her skin was brown like mine, she spoke Spanish just like me and in addition to that she walked in such great power! She was intelligent, respected, and “took no shit.” She was also kind and patient. She had this silent and unignorable confidence (I think I just made up a word) that was intimidating but inviting.
And I thought I could be my version of her one day.
In her non fiction book, For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color (2021), Nicaraguan author, Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez writes a beautiful love letter for Women of Color where she touches on her own experience as a Brown girl from Nicaragua whose family migrated to Florida. She speaks to her or better yet, our experience navigating White dominant spaces. She speaks of the ongoing healing relationship with her brown skin.
She speaks about the power in us taking space! And does not ignore the pain and heartbreak we endure when doing so.
Prisca intersects these stories with the systems that impact us day-to-day (i.e., politics, toxic masculinity, colorism, colonization, etc.) She dedicates the book to us, the difficult daughters. Those of us who have had to grow sharp edges around our tender hearts. This love letter speaks to your heart strings while activating your critical mind. The piece of you who has often been discouraged and silenced. In this story telling form, For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts, Prisca speaks to the complexity of the Brown Girl identity. I invite you to begin or continue your journey towards healing by reading our stories and sharing yours!
Mitzy D. Ruelas M.S., is an outpatient clinician at TOC Therapy. She is a first-generation Mexican American bilingual mujer passionate about supporting individuals and couples in healing. The core of her work is culture-centered, anti-racist, and powered by social justice, to honor and hold space for the lived experiences of people of color. specialize in stress and anxiety management, relationships, self-advocacy, intergenerational trauma, and imposter syndrome. Request a free consultation with Mitzy.