Author and poet Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro began a Zoom call hosted by the UNC Latina/o Studies Program (LSP) on Wednesday with the introduction of one of her short story collections, “las Negras.”
“They were very happy people being slaves — this was the first line I learned in the third grade from our history and social studies teacher,” she said.
During the call, the Puerto Rican writer discussed her award-winning fiction and poetry, which promotes historical recovery and the discussion of Afro-identity and sexual diversity.
Arroyo Pizarro was the winner of the 2012 and 2015 National Short Story Prize awarded by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The collection “las Negras” explores the stories of enslaved women who actively dissent hierarchies of power and Western ways of thinking.
Arroyo Pizarro said during the discussion that she wanted to make the article lowercase and the noun uppercase in the book's title, "las Negras," to focus more closely on the noble rebellion of the book's female protagonists and examine the Western ideals that were pushed onto them.
Her writings were inspired by stories her grandmother told her, which were passed down from women in her lineage. Arroyo Pizarro encouraged event listeners to reflect on the stories of their own ancestors.
“I take on the responsibility of awakening spirits, and giving them shape on every page, in every act of resistance,” Arroyo Pizarro read aloud from a manifesto in an upcoming book.
In the discussion, she said that she was invited to read her books to students in Puerto Rico.
One of the books she read to them, “Captain Cataño and the Magical Cornrows,” explores the importance of being proud of African hair styles.