[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Invisibilizadas e innombradas: Cuentos de mujeres puertorriqueñas negras, by Rosario Méndez Panedas, as published in April 2022 by Editorial EDP University. Here are excerpts from a book review by Felix Cruz (El Post Antillano): “Invisibilizadas e innombradas un libro de Rosario Méndez Panedas.”
Invisibilizadas e innombradas: Cuentos de mujeres puertorriqueñas negras [Invisibilized and unnamed: Stories of Black Puerto Rican Women] is the title of the latest publication by writer Rosario Méndez Panedas. The book, with 89 pages, was published by the EDP University publishing house. The work is divided into two parts: “Mujeres invisibilizadas”[Invisibilized Women], biographies of black women forgotten by the collective memory despite the extent of their work, and “Mujeres innombradas” [Unnamed Women], imaginary narratives of slave women whose only known data are those printed in advertisements in Gaceta del Gobierno Constitucional de Puerto Rico.
The work is prefaced by renowned writer and director of the Chair of Ancestral Black Women, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro. The book was designed by Linnette Cubano García. The cover, which shows an image of a black woman, was created by Ingrid Rodríguez Ramos. The beautiful interior illustrations are works by Spanish visual artist, Tomás Méndez Panedas.
[. . .] Rosario is a master of language. She holds dominion over language and knows how to write for all audiences. She does not seek to impress with elaborate language, but her linguistic prowess is clear. In each word there is an emotion that runs deep and sensitizes us to the immensity of the biographies and the pain of the enslaved.
Rosario speaks to women. In her text, it is clear that she understands the feminist struggle. The author knows very well that women have been victims of a male chauvinist system, but who, despite the oppression, know how to be warriors and overcome the obstacles imposed by patriarchy. They do not seek compassion, but rather demands equality and respect for well-earned merits.
In “Mujeres invisibilizadas,”the author shares with us biographical recreations of teacher Celestina Cordero Medina; the working-class fighter, Juana Colón; the genius of librarian and writer Pura Beltré [sic; Pura Belpré];; the creative immensity of the visual artist Cecilia Orta Allende; and the life of a slave who defends her right to be free, Agripina.
The author humanizes the biographies. Using her imagination, Rosario recreates their struggles and heartaches as she catapults us to find out more about these great women. They are stories that make us rethink the injustices of an outdated system that still struggles to give women their space.
In the section “Mujeres innombradas,” we go hand in hand with Rosario to feel, through her imagination, what slavery meant for black women. The pain of rape, stolen motherhood, the dehumanization of feminine entity, the destruction of cultural identity, and the loss of freedom are obvious themes in her stories. The author reconstructs the life of the masked women in the advertisements of a newspaper dominated by insensitive and racist males. [. . .]
Rosario Méndez Panedas is a professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, San Germán Campus. The author has a degree in Hispanic Philology from Madrid’s Complutense University and a doctorate in Hispanic American literature from Syracuse University in New York.
Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. See original (in Spanish) at https://elpostantillano.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29708:invisibilizadas-e-innombradas-un-libro-de-rosario-mendez-panedas&catid=293&Itemid=1002
For more on the book, see https://es-la.facebook.com/editorialEDP/photos/2910587122491289
“Conversatorio sobre el libro Invisibilizadas e innombradas: cuentos de mujeres puertorriqueñas negras con su autora Dra. Rosario Méndez Panedas e invitados: Dra. Ángela Valentín y Dr. Edgardo Machuca”
Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (ICP), May 3, 2022
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