Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist

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Day 24 – Mujeres Poderosas – Raquel Z. Rivera

To my Little Purple Wolf,

You went down the slide in the park ALL by yourself, today. I saw your light and independence shine, shine, shine!

I am so excited to see you become such an independent and fun loving little girl.

Right now, you are learning animal sounds with grandma. She has taught you how to meow, woof, and aaahoooo.

I love watching the two of you interact.

Seeing your eyes shining bright reminds me of one of the most influential women in my life since my undergraduate career and today’s Mujer Poderosa, Raquel Z. Rivera.

Raquel is the first woman of Puerto Rican descent that I met who earned a PhD.  I was her student at the “From Hip Hop to Reggaeton” course taught at Columbia University during my sophomore year.

Raquel and her baby boy. Photo taken by Catarina Dos Santos.

At that time, Raquel was a recent PhD who had just published her work “New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone.” She was highly influenced by the work of Juan Flores, and I was thrilled to learn that one could pursue work on hip hop at the PhD level.

At that point in my life, I knew I wanted to get a PhD, but I didn’t have much of an understanding of what that entailed.

After taking her course, I continued to maintain a relationship with Raquel, where she served as a mentor and guide through my undergraduate career, my graduate studies, and today.  She remains one of the biggest supporters of my decision to pursue higher education and has been a recommender for many of the programs I have had the privilege of being accepted into.

Not only is Raquel an accomplished scholar, she is also an incredible musician.  Her album,  Las 7 Salves de  la Magdalena, with Ojos de Sofia pays tribute to traditional Dominican musical forms with a twist.  On top of becoming a mom recently and moving all the way to New Mexico from New York, Raquel has been working on new songs that are part of the series “Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love and Bitterness,” which will move away from common musical tropes of heartbroken women as empty and lost without a man.  She even has a recent article due to be published in the Latin American Music Review.

Raquel, like Isabel, remind us that you can be a scholar, a woman, mother, and artist without having to compromise yourself and your integrity.

She is a woman you should admire for her kindness, willingness to help her community, and her extreme talent.

I can only hope that you will find mentors and educators as forthcoming and dedicated to the better of their communities like I have in Raquel.

With Gratitude,

Mami Loves You

About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: and fill out the form.