Inspired by all the strong women in his life, Puerto Rican Marvel writer Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez created the comic La Borinqueña. The superhero—a Columbia University undergraduate student named Marisol studying Earth and Environmental Science—is an Afro-Boricua born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Marisol is a symbol of hope not only for Puerto Rico but for women, especially Latinas, Afro-Latinas and women of color filling the void of acknowledgment.
Why did you create the character as a female? I ask.
These are the strongest people in my life: Iris Morales, one of the original members of the Young Lords Party; Frances Lucerna, founder of El Puente; Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, founder of El Museo and founder of CCCADI; my cousin Linda de Jesus; my wife Chen Chung Miranda; my mother, Maria Rodriguez; and my sister who was paraplegic at the age of 9, Marisol, says Edgardo.
In the new era of Trumpism where grab them by the p***y is acceptable to say by the majority, it seems as though the rights of women are gradually going back to the time where Renaissance chastity belts were required to be worn by women in relationships. La Borinqueña retracts against this backwards thinking and plays an integral part in affecting minds on a subconscious level where Latinas and women of color of all kind see themselves as a superhero — who are deemed worthy and the ones holding the power to make change.
Something psychologically happens when you’re a negrita and all you see are images of blanquitos in sitcoms and movies. It does something to the self-esteem [when] you grow up from childhood to adulthood never seeing yourself. And whether you’re conscious of it or not, you do things to yourself. You change the color of your hair, you change the color of your eyes, you change so many things about you because you’re constantly shown imagery that you don’t exist, you don’t matter, you don’t represent beauty, and so for the first time here is a comic book that does all of this. It isn’t just a Puerto Rican thing, it’s a woman of color thing. Black women have come up to me in events, thanking me for the character, exclaims Miranda-Rodriguez.
The comic is an uncommon view of what Latina and women of color process on a daily basis through advertising images, television, and mainstream media. In La Borinqueña, the Latina is characterized as a strong, intelligent, independent female who is respected and cared for by the men in her life.
Reading through the pages of La Borinqueña as a Nuyorican from Williamsburg, Brooklyn I envisioned myself riding my bicycle across the Williamsburg Bridge, on the plane to visit my family in Puerto Rico, and taking action on my island, supporting my people in any way needed. But aside from immediate cognitive association to the story, its message seeped into my psyche and I thought of myself as a superhero as well. I was her. Although I cannot literally obtain powers from crystals in a cave, my talents and strengths are the power I have to believe in myself and be the change I want to see in the world.
We’ve never seen ourselves as the protagonist, we’ve never seen ourselves as the hero of the book, especially women, especially dark-completion women and so oftentimes when I hear overwhelmingly from these women from different events and social media, “Oye pero se parece a mi.” They say it in a coy way but I tell them you’re right. She does look like you. She looks exactly like you. She looks like your mom, your sister, your best friend and like your cousin, explains Edgardo.
By my response and those of many other women, La Borinqueña is what was needed to unearth us from all the dirt buried in our consciousness. It gives a role model in comic form who isn’t real and therefore can be anyone in real life.
As we start to look at ourselves as superheroes, the feeling of worthlessness fades, we become more confident and can ultimately take back our lives.
This in its self is a revolution. La Borinqueña is a revolution.
La Borinqueña was created by an all-Puerto Rican and mostly male talent team. When asked why there weren’t more women involved in the project, Edgardo responded:
Unfortunately, in the comic book industry there aren’t a lot of Latinas. The few that I did find were signed to exclusive contracts to the big publishers. I did find one young woman via a hashtag that was trending on Twitter. She is Puerto Rican and just graduated from art school last year but I gave her a chance anyway and mentored her throughout the process.
Purchase La Borinqueña comic book, t-shirt, mug and even the limited-edition collectors vinyl figure here.