I faked all of my book reports as a kid – I hated reading. I got good grades in my ESL classes only because of some natural ability with words. At least that’s what teachers said. Gifted. My ease with diction and syntax had less to do with natural ability and more to do with my growing ability to adapt. I was surviving.
I think of my abuelita's stories. These tales often began with a declaration that she’d been born four months after the Titanic set sail. With a laugh, she’d swirl her ever present cup of coffee and add that the ship sank five days later. Meanwhile, she persevered. She said that it was coffee that kept her going.
Organizers of Giovanni's Room unite to honor literary ancestors
I was lost. Although I had never imagined myself as a mother at the time, I knew it couldn't happen the way it was going to. I was despondent and caught in a physically, emotionally and sexually abusive relationship. I didn't need a child. I needed help. During this terrible time, I experienced a clear realization that if I went forth with this pregnancy, my baby would suffer.
After a gang unit stopped my 14 year old cousin for driving in a stolen hoopty, they took her to Eastlake Juvenile Hall and handed her over to a new abuser: a cop.
An older homegirl, a hood mom whom Desiree considered her mentor, announced, "I'm jumping you in."
As I settle into my pregnancy, I fantasize about the human I’m going to bring into the world. I picture a girl. Beautiful. Black. Freckled like her father. Myopic like me. When she is thirteen we will sit down and have the talk. Not about periods. Or boys. Or girls. Or bodies. Or pets. Or HBCUs. Or sex. But about getting a perm.
Myriam Gurba writes about her cousin Desiree, female gangsters, cholas, Mexican bad asses with big hair, and the criminalization of survivors.
When my uncle Claude eventually passes away, he'll leave behind an estate of remarkable wealth. He's the only one of my father's siblings that was able to retire before becoming eligible for AARP citizenship. It's remarkable for me to think that for most of my life I've known my uncle as a shady real estate investor rather than the cheerful supervisor at the Palo Alto Main Post Office.
Revisiting one of our favorite pieces from Tasteful Rude: “Are you Black?” my first crush, a white boy, asked me as we played together in the sandbox at school. I wasn’t sure. I thought of my nickname “negrita” but I didn’t know how to explain that I’m the darkest in my family or why it seemed perfectly natural to be identified by my pigmentation. When I couldn’t answer, he ran away from me.