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.
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.