Fellow feminist Latina blogger at Viva La Feminista, Veronica Arreola, is hosting an amazing series of guest posts this summer by Latinas and their relationship to feminism. I answered Veronica’s call for submissions as an opportunity to share the story that changed my entire life. Here’s an excerpt from my guest post titled Finding My Latina Feminism:
If it weren’t for some Irish white guy, I never would have become a feminist.
When I read James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man my senior year in high school, it changed my entire life. Never before had I read a novel that spoke to me with such intensity.
The main character, Stephen Dedalus, was repeatedly teased and picked on the playground. I was teased and picked on the playground with names like spic and nigger.
Here was a boy who wrote poetry hidden underneath the covers. I wrote poetry with big words that no one in my family understood.
Here was a boy who questioned the Catholic Church and went off to college to proclaim non serviam, or “I will not serve” the church, and instead became an artist, a writer, and a thinker. At 18, I also questioned the Catholic Church and went off to Smith to proclaim my own destiny as a queer feminist writer and thinker.
But while I read Joyce, I kept asking: Why isn’t this character a Puerto Rican girl living on Long Island via the Bronx in 1993? And why haven’t I ever read a book with a Latina protagonist who shares my story?