Do the strands of your DNA make you Latina? Raquel Cepeda at Books & Books

raquel_cepedaMeet award-winning journalist, activist, and documentary filmmaker
Raquel Cepeda
Discussing and signing
Bird of Paradise:
How I Became Latina

(Atria Books, $25)

Friday, June 7, 8pm
Books & Books, Coral Gables


Born in Harlem to Dominican parents, Raquel Cepeda was sent to live with her maternal grandparents in the Paraíso (Paradise) district in Santo Domingo while still a baby. In time, Paraíso came to mean family, home, belonging. When Cepeda returned to the U.S., she discovered her family constellation had changed, finding herself back in New York City with her father and European stepmother. She fought vicious battles with her father, who discouraged her from expressing the Dominican part of her hyphenated identity; at the same time, she immersed herself  in the ’80s hip-hop culture of uptown Manhattan. It was in these streets, through the prism of hip-hop and the sometimes loving embrace of her community, that Cepeda constructed her own identity.


Years later, when Cepeda had become a successful journalist and documentary filmmaker, the strands of her DNA would take her across the globe and into history. Who were her ancestors? How did they—and she—become Latina? With a vibrant lyrical prose and fierce honesty, Cepeda parses concepts of race, identity, and ancestral DNA among Latinos by using her own Dominican-American story as one example, and in the process arrives at some sort of peace with her father.


About the Author:

RAQUEL CEPEDA is an award-winning journalist, cultural activist, and documentary filmmaker. Cepeda’s writings have been widely anthologized and her work has been featured in media outlets including People, the Associated Press,The Village Voice, MTV News,, and many others. Cepeda edited the critically acclaimed anthology And It Don’t Stop: The Best Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years, winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins and Latino Book Award. She was named one of El Diario/La Prensa’s Distinguished Women of 2013. She lives with her husband, a writer and television producer, teenage daughter and infant son in her beloved New York City.

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