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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Uncharted words: Navigating the writing world as a Latina

By now, people of color are aware that in today’s society, representation matters. I’m a Latina who plans on going into a career of writing, and I’d love to be a storyteller who amplifies the voices of those who are often silenced. However, it’s been hard to get the confidence necessary for going into this career when I don’t often hear about the women that came before me.

Latina writers tend to be considered an afterthought in western literature, where we’re only included in classes that are optional and not necessary. There are many amazing Latina writers such as Julia Alvarez, Sanda Cisneros and Gianna Braschi. However, the problem here is that I was only given these amazing pieces of writing when I was in a class that either already had an eclectic choice of literature, or because I was in a Spanish class.

Latina writers are rarely actively chosen for a class and tend to only be taught for the sake of diversity. So as a Latina going into this field, I can’t help but feel like my future holds the same curse as these amazing women; my work only being taught for the sake of helping people feel socially conscious by reading culturally diverse literature, not because I have something valuable to say.

We see how much representation matters when building the confidence of children and even adults. With the upcoming rise of mainstream media showing princesses, superheroes and overall good role models as people of color, we see how important it is to the people that look like them. It gives them hope and inspiration, which simply wouldn’t be possible in a world where the preferred narrative is that these characters are only reserved for white men and women.

Literature is no different, as English classes are normally only taught with sources from older white men. Of course, many of literature’s classics just so happen to be written by men that fit this normal narrative, but choosing to not include people from other backgrounds who are clearly qualified, is simply complacent. There are so many valuable pieces of writing that aren’t considered worthy of being taught in core academic settings simply because of who wrote them.

However, I refuse to let these obstacles stop me from chasing this career choice. People of color have important things to say, and we deserve to have them heard. Writing has been a form of expression amongst many cultures for centuries, and I hope to be a part of the history.

My own experiences as a non-traditional student and my life as a Latina are parts of the stories I hope to tell. As someone from a low-income household who has experienced things such as homelessness, I hope to offer new perspectives to people who may not have gone through these things. Which hopefully, in turn, will spark important and urgent conversations amongst the audiences. I only dream that one day I’m able to change just one person’s world, one word at a time.

Apart from telling my own story, I hope to tell the stories of people whose words too often fall on deaf ears. We ignore the common people in our daily lives, when sometimes they have the most profound things to say. I’ve had some of the best lessons and heard the best stories from people who I’ve met in the most mundane ways. The world is full of inspiration, it’s just waiting for people to listen.

I know that this is a career that isn’t exactly “safe.” As the child of immigrants, I was told to pursue something that would get me a good living with good pay, as in tech or law. But I never wanted that. I’ve always loved learning from people, and just writing down the amazing stories of adversity that I hear. I’ve grown the most from listening to people outside of my own sphere of knowledge, and I don’t want to stop following this path, regardless of where it may lead.

While I may never reach that conventional level of success, I simply want to follow what makes me truly happy. The world is filled with an abundance of stories, and I hope to absorb as many as I can. I want to have people read my writing and find that it sticks with them even after they’ve put it down.

But I do know that success is not guaranteed, and advocating for myself is already extremely hard. There will surely be a lot of rejection along the way, and there will be people who don’t care or may not even like what I have to say. All of this leaves me feeling vulnerable and scared, especially when, as I’ve said in the beginning, I haven’t seen many women who look like me following this same path. Even though this is my reality, I still strive to achieve my goals. Not just for me, but hopefully for a little Latina who has the same hopes and dreams. So that even if the world aims to silence her, she learns to just speak louder.

My thinking may come across as a bit optimistic, and I realize that sometimes it sounds naïve. But everyone who wanted to change something has heard the same thing. I try to not let my big ideas become belittled by people who haven’t dared to dream. Latinas come from a line of strong women, and I want to show that we have the right to be heard in every setting, not just the ones striving for diversity.

Writing this for The Mass Media helps me feel like I’m already taking the necessary steps to get closer to my dream. So, thank you all for giving me the space to be my truest self and for listening to the words I have to say. I hope we all find the courage to follow our dreams, even when it’s the path less traveled. If no one has traveled that path before you, it’s an honor to be in the company of a pioneer who will be a motivator for the generations to come. Good luck, I’m rooting for you!

About the Contributor
Mercy Moncada, Opinions Writer