Thinking About My Parisian Massive

by admin on January 8, 2015



Screen shot 2014-08-16 at 11.34.53 AMPeace Earthlings! Check out my latest piece for New York Times, Travel, in print today.

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While the idea of renewing your vows on a tropical beach at sunset like a pair of histrionic telenovela stars may sound romantic to some, my husband, Sacha, and I found the idea of celebrating our anniversary that way, well, boring.

But we are not the most traditional couple. Five years ago, we surprised several dozen guests at our Upper Manhattan apartment by getting married at what we told our friends and family was an engagement party. Paying tribute to the 1980s hip-hop culture that reared us, we improvised, or free-styled, our vows in the form of searing one-liners that were padded with sincere toasts about love, friendship and devotion. Needless to say it was sublimely intimate, a small victory in a world where social networking made maintaining the element of surprise a near mission impossible.

It was in this spirit of spontaneity, adventure and mostly curiosity that we decided one evening, after coming across a rerun of one of our guilty pleasures, “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel, while channel surfing, how we would mark the 11th year (we dated for six before getting hitched) of our own cosmic journey together. In the moments after an animated talking head with a tousled mane said something about an indigenous petroglyph seeming to depict intergalactic travel, it occurred to us: We should go on an alien adventure.




Happy 2015!

by admin on December 31, 2014

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” Buddha



Happy Babaluaye | San Lazaro’s Day

by admin on December 17, 2014

I bet they’re celebrating this in Cuba, too, as they should. Restoring their splintered relationship with the United States is THE double-edged dilemma of the year in foreign policy. It’s going to be interesting, to say the least, tracking this story: thoughts later. Today, we pray that San Lazaro/Babaluaye, cleans away any confusion, malaise, and sickness from our lives and the lives of our loved ones.



I’m stoked to be featured on #wanderwoman Amy Gigi Alexander‘s blog! She’s a pretty freaking talented travel writer and her fiercely evocative pieces are #swoonworthy. Below is a sample of the piece. Click below to read the conversation in its entirety.

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Lesley McSpadden and Louis Head, the mother and stepfather of Michael Brown, on August 9th. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY HUY MACH/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH/AP

Lesley McSpadden and Louis Head, the mother and stepfather of Michael Brown, on August 9th.

I wrote and deleted several versions of this post about Michael Brown’s murder at the barrel of officer Darren Wilson’s gun because they called for nothing good. I am so angry about this, another senseless and preventable death of a Black child. I’m profoundly, utterly saddened by Brown’s murder and even more so for his mother, Lesley McSpadden’s loss. To lose a child. To bury a baby she conspired with a higher being to give light to. A baby whom she loved, loves, as much as any of us love our own. She loved, loves, her baby as much as any white mother loves her own but didn’t have the social capital or luxury of raising him with a different set of rules. You know exactly what I mean. As mothers of Black and Brown men, we can’t enjoy our children without thinking about the what-ifs. What if I send my son to the store to buy milk and what if the wrong cop, having a bad day, steps to him? What if my son, like any other average teenager, retaliates by resisting authority or mouthing off after feeling provoked? If he’s not white, chances are he may not make it back. Even Republican Senator Rand Paul said as much, naturally in his own words, in a recent appearance on Bill Maher.

I am not surprised as much as really super fucking disgusted by Wilson’s acquittal and the “prosecutor’s” failure to take the half-step to charge the murderer with something, anything: expected FOX 5 and goons to offer the American public a lopsided spin on behalf of The Man; maybe didn’t quite expect but wasn’t shocked by Rudy “9/11″ Giuliani’s recent out-of-touch backward-thinking white supremacist remarks to Michael Eric Dyson; Wilson’s “clean conscience,” apparent lack of remorse and dehumanizing remarks about the unarmed Black man he shot down like prey was, well, not surprising; CNN’s Don Lemon offered stinky-shitty-whiny reporting in and OUT of Ferguson but that’s something we are all pretty much getting used to; not surprised as much as appalled at the recent shooting death of a 12 year-old Cleveland boy by, you guessed it, a scared cop; or that police brutality has been all but legalized in America while our deadpan President’s response to the acquittal was, um, deadpan as fuck. Then, earlier today I read about a pregnant woman, Mayra Lazos-Guerrero, who was brutalized in Denver by the cops. Shocked? Nope. I went through a similar ordeal when I was on my way to deliver my daughter almost eighteen years ago. That’s another story, related yes, but for another time.

The facts are pouring in, one more shocking than the next, about the botched abortion that is our justice system but I can’t help but go back and think about Brown’s mother. Her sorrow. I feel terrible for his father, yes. But I’m a mother. I can empathize with a father’s love but I carry a mother’s—a nonwhite mother’s—joy and fear for her children. My son is two-and-a-half. I remember when I first held him. I remember that minutes into it, I panicked. He was healthy and had a strong cry. However, when I looked at his gray little face knowing that his body would soon take on the characteristics that would make him a target of discrimination, violence, hatred, and malevolence, I became anxious. I became sort of unstuck in time, flying through the years, landing in his teens. It made me angry that I couldn’t just live in the moment and enjoy him. I have thought back to those moments every time I think of Lesley McSpadden and all the mothers that came before her and after. #BLACK&BROWNLivesMatter

Michael Brown

Michael Brown


THIS happened last night at The United Nations: Dominican artist, German Perez, presented me with an award at his mind-blowing art show, Amen de Mariposas, for my book Bird of Paradise. The plaque reads:

The permanent mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations recognizes Raquel Cepeda, for the courage reflected in her literature, her commitment to denouncing violence against women, and for her work in helping young women’s empowerment.


Amen De Mariposas


I was really honored and, frankly, surprised! German Perez is someone who has challenged the stereotype that all Dominicans deny their African and/or Indigenous and/or Taino ancestry, through his visual work and music. I stood there, standing directly in front of a painting of the sisters Mirabal, political activists butchered in 1960 by our former dictator/boogeyman’s goons for opposing Dominican Republic’s oppressive regime. Yesterday, November 25, was the anniversary of their murder, and Perez’s art opening kicked off the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which actually lasts for sixteen days. Perez’s work evoked their spirits and although I was nervous—not because of the crowd but because of my utter respect and admiration for Perez and his dedication to bridging the intergenerational gap between Dominicans on the island and here—I could feel our ancestors/guests of honor, Minerva, Patria, and Maria Teresa Mirabal propping me up. What a feeling.


German Perez, pictured left, and moi, Cepeda, on the right.


Forgive me for not posting this sooner—so, in the future, if I don’t post for a while, check out my social media feeds, links on the right hand side under FOLLOW RAQUEL, for wassup with me—but I’m playing catch-up because I’ve been caught up in a mostly awesome whirlwind these past couple of weeks. Below is an event authors Baratunde Thurston, Tanner Colby and myself did last week at the Brooklyn Historical Society. We decided to make the panel a dry run for a podcast I’ll tell you about in the near future. And really, to keep it real, I am surprised CSPAN went ahead and aired this joint, with all the cursing, drinking, and whatnot.

Here, a snapshot of our "amalgamagical" audience in Brooklyn!

Here, a snapshot of our “amalgamagical” audience in Brooklyn!

So, a Black dude, a white guy and a Latina decided to have a frank conversation about race, and this is what happened. FOLLOW THIS LINK: