Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez has been writing for and about women of color for years and this year she released her first book, described as a love letter to brown girls. For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts is an empowering book that’s part memoir, part guide for tackling issues WOC deal with including impostor syndrome and toxic masculinity. Prisca, who was born in Nicaragua, is the founder of Latina Rebels, a digital platform founded in 2013 that explores the complexities of Latinidad and calls out the good, bad, and ugly within our community. The book is an extension of this intention and a statement in and of itself considering the lack of diversity in literature and the publishing industry. She dedicated the book to the “difficult daughters” and shared that this book is meant to spark change and embolden fellow brown girls.
“I want us to stop watering ourselves down, and I hope that by sampling from my fire, Brown girls can find their own flames. Not only do I want them to find their flame, I want them to fan that flame to push them towards advocating for themselves and then others. ‘Once you’ve heard your chains rattle, you can’t unhear them,’ I want them to hear all their chains, so loudly it wakes you up,” she recently told HipLatina.
Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?
Sandra Cisneros has this one piece that I think is really underrated, in an anthology called Goddess of the Americas: Writing on the Virgin of Guadalupe, edited by Ana Castillo. In this piece, titled “Guadalupe the Sex Goddess,” Cisneros talks about her experience learning to love her body and talks about her panocha and her dark nipples. It is raw and it is very moving, and something of Cisneros that I will forever be grateful for because she was so daring in her writing of this non-fiction piece. My relationship to my own body has been transformed by seeing a Latina like Cisneros discuss her own body and shame and masturbation, in ways I had not seen discussed before.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Regeneration, because I carry a lot of trauma in my body. The ability to heal my own stomach lining, my brain when I experience stress related headaches, or even the ability to soothe my muscles where I seem to hold a lot of tension. It’s such a dark superpower, but I want to live longer than my own trauma will allow me to believe is possible.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
One of my mentors once told me with a knowing look in her eyes that “not all skin folk, are kin folk” and that has allowed me to not always overextend myself for folks who are not willing to meet me halfway. I am very passionate about our gente, but knowing that just because someone looks like me does not mean that they will care about me in return is just good self-preservation tactics.
What would you title the autobiography of your life?
What If Things Work Out? A tale of resistance
What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
I got myself a bottle of Chanel No 5, because the smell reminds me of old-school dignified señoras.
What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
I hope they understand that I am a mess, I cry a lot and I experience severe anxiety. I do not have all the answers, that I am just trying to make the world a better place than how I found it but that I am flawed and still learning. I do not want to be on a pedestal, I want to sit in a table with y’all.
What motivates you?
Y’all! When you understand that your humanity is tied to the humanity of others, whenever you think of your future you also think of the futures of everyone else. I want us to be free, together.
How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?
I ask myself that question a lot. I could not have dreamed that I would end up with this profession. I could have never mapped this out, or manifested this. It took a lot of schooling, a lot of luck, some accidents, great community, and strong sense of self-belief.
But it started when I decided to focus on community building. When I shifted my focus from attempting to gain the approval of the white gaze, and I set my eyes on creating Latina Rebels, to build a bridge for us to have access to all the knowledge I was receiving at my very privileged elite academic institution. May 5, 2013 changed my entire life, and I have not looked back.
What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?
My greatest professional achievement has been this book deal! Obtaining a book deal from one of the biggest publishers in the country is like winning the lottery, in general, and then add to that the fact that I am an immigrant whose family is not wealthy back in the motherland, so ZERO generational wealth, and it turns this entire lottery winning experience into a mind-blowing life-altering one.
My greatest personal achievement has been creating boundaries with my family, and honoring my boundaries even when it gets hard and my internal dialogue tells me I am being cruel. This win is a daily win, a daily practice, and I celebrate it every day because it still feels hard.
What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?
I would love to be in every classroom, across the USA, not because I want to be famous but because I want this genre-bending book to end up everywhere. I want to demystify this industry, through a storytelling as pedagogy methodology, and get as many people to write their own stories! I want all versions of the same stories, all the perspectives to exist!
Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love and tell us why you’re a fan:
Not many people know this about me but I love fashion. I do not love the lily white fashion industry, but I love folks who do have a critical lens and are fashionable like @spicy.mayo
Follow Yaminah y’all, she is hilarious, socially conscious, and looks so damn good while doing it all.
Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business and why
@thepassportpolish owned by Mari Brisco. Mari is Nicaraguan, like myself, and seeing Nicaraguenses thrive is truly my greatest joy of all my joys! Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America but the poorest country of all our countries in Latin America and celebrating our wins means celebrating the lengths its taken so many of us to thrive here. Also they carry gorgeous nails polishes I wear year round.
Name your favorites: Snack, Song, Artist
Snack: That limon and salt powder is my kryptonite.
Song: Currently, it is Carla Morrison’s “Contigo” which just came out
Artist: Tough call but blues artist Irene Reid really does things to me, and I know every song and every lyric of all her songs, which is rare for me. “Million Dollar Secret” is my favorite song of hers.