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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Think I've Been Hit by the Anti-Secret

So you know how I’ve been blogging lately about how fabulous the Latino community has been? It’s true. I’ve gotten tons of emails from multicultural teens, I won second place at the International Latino Book Awards, and Hispanic schools and organizations have helped me to promote my books. I even talked about how the Latino community assuaged my fears about not being “Latina enough.” And you know what the universe tossed me in response? My worst nightmare.



I call it The Law of Retraction—or the Anti-Secret (or maybe the Blabbermouth?). Essentially after all my heartfelt thanks for the warm welcome, I brought forth from the universe the exact thing I was dreading—the Latina naysayer.

You see, I’ve spoken frequently about how I worried some might claim I’m a poseur for writing a novel with Puerto Rican characters (though I am Puerto Rican). You know because I don’t look like the Latina stereotype and I wasn’t born speaking Spanish. I did study Spanish in school but I haven’t used the language since I graduated in 2000, and right now my Spanish sucks rocks.

But what I am gonna do? It’s not like I’m living in Spain anymore. And I could try speaking Spanish with my cat, but I really don’t think that would help me much. It’s just the world I live in. But I guess there are those who just don't take too kindly to that 'round these parts.

Specifically, I was recently chastised (in person) for not being fluent in Spanish, for not writing my novels in Spanish, and thus for not contributing to the Latino community in the way this person thought I should be. Um, yeah.

First off, I’m not going to apologize for how my parents raised me. No, my dad didn’t teach me Spanish in the home. But my mom didn’t teach me Polish either, yet there don’t seem to be many people criticizing me for that (and my mom’s parents spoke Polish as well as my dad’s parents spoke Spanish).

And secondly, my books are about a character who’s dealing with these exact issues, which makes the criticism really ironic. Clearly this person hadn’t read my books, but if anything the remarks just provided further validation that a character like Mariana Ruiz is needed for today’s multicultural teens.

Personally, I think I’ve made a lot of strides to connect to my parents’ roots. But I guess there will always be those who feel the need to criticize, considering this same person also asked “what I else I did?” besides the whole novel-writing thing. So if I have to explain how being a young adult author is an actual career, I think it’s safe to say we’re not going to be getting those BFF charms anytime soon.

So haha, universe, you got me! Maybe next time I should start ragging on Oprah’s book club selections and in return maybe the Law of Retraction will put me at the top of her YA list.


Cartoon from the New Yorker

POP CULTURE RANT: Gossip Girl

I realize this is YA sacrilege, but I just started watching Gossip Girl. I’ve read a couple of the books, so I’m not completely out of it. But I never really dipped into the TV show, and given the reruns I thought I’d give it a whirl. Can I say I’m now obsessed with Chuck and Blair? And I just found out that the actor who plays Chuck, Ed Westwick, is British! Love his real voice (what girl’s not a sucker for a British accent), but I’m really impressed by the deep, raspy, American voice he’s perfected. I think if my WIP ever gets made into a movie, I might have to cast Ed as the male (British) lead.

2 Comments:

Anonymous joelle said...

No one taught me Danish either. Dang them! I mean, my grandpa was born in the US and didn't learn English until he started school, so why didn't he teach his kids so my mom could teach me? I better not write about any Danes for fear of backlash.

Actually, now I live in Canada and my MC is a Canadian teen. Hmmm...I better be ready!

Seriously. Good post. Sorry this happened to you. There are idiots out there everywhere...

Sounds like the real readers are connecting though, and that's great news!

June 16, 2009 at 6:31 PM  
Anonymous Lesley said...

As a very wise up-and-coming rapper told me last year: "Haters just want to be you."

It's so true. There will always be people who don't like what you're doing, probably because they're jealous that you're following your dreams, and they aren't. It's so entirely ridiculous, and sad, that someone called you out for not writing in Spanish and for not knowing Spanish. That argument is so, like, 1972. Does this person not realize that there are THOUSANDS (nay, millions!) of Latinos in this country who don't speak Spanish, and they have stories too? Why can't we all just be happy that you're writing about a Latina character in the first place?

Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now.

Keep up the good work. :-)

June 17, 2009 at 11:37 AM  

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