Ever since I was a little girl mami would tell me “preparate bien pa que ningun hombre te pueda joder”. This was my mother’s advice to me. These words would seep deeper and deeper into me as the years went on. At first, I didn’t know what she meant, I was too young and innocent to understand. I remember mami dressing me and saying “las niñas tienen que estudiar pa que se valgan por si misma”. The older I got, the more she’d get into telling me about men and how they only wanted to take advantage of women y tenerla como esclavas.
Mami said that I needed to study and get my own money so I wouldn’t have to depend on a man. “Despues que estudies y seas una profesional el pirmero que te quiera joder tu lo mandas a la misma mierda. These words empowered me, and although I made a lot of mistakes in my early adult life, they saved me later on. When I ran away from home con un desgraciado abusador my mom’s words would keep me up at night until I mustered the strength that became like a sword, a sword I used to break free from my abuser. I continued on my journey of preparandome by going to college but then I became a single mom. I was taking care of myself and my son and mami was proud of me. She’d tell me to stay alone because life was better that way. After many years of the single life, I yearned to be happily married and have more children. I went to the Dominican Republic y le hice viaje a un tiguere de alla. I brought him to New York with the 90 day fiance visa. I married him and got pregnant almost immediately. It wasn’t long before he showed me his true self. Turns out he was a cheater y un bago. I stayed longer than I should dique for the kids. Mom would get on the phone and tell me, “tu ere una mujer preparada y no tienen que aguantarle a ese pendejo.” I had birthed 2 kids with him and was 10 years into the relationship, so it was mad hard to leave him. Mami’s words kept gnawing at me. Incessantly. No me dejaban descansar ni dormir. Me salia hasta en la sopa. I kept thinking back to my earliest memory of mami telling me que una mujer preparada no necesita un hombre. Que una mujer preparada no se deja joder de un hombre. My mother, una campesina with a third grade education, born and raised during the Trujillo regime, raised me to have the tenacity to stand up to any pendejo that tries to put me down.
Marilyn Ramirez is a second-generation immigrant born and raised in Inwood, NYC. Growing up, she didn’t like literature much; she remembers in high school reading books where she could not connect with any of the characters. She went on to study at Fordham University where she double majored in economics and Latin American and Latino Studies. She took sociology courses that focused on Latinx literature and culture. It was in these classes that she was exposed to the works of Josefina Baez, Julia Álvarez, Junot Diaz, Alejo Carpentier, and other writers that spoke to her own lived experience. It was Clara Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican professor, that told her many years ago that she had to write her story. While she wrote frequently, it all stayed in her journal, and the desire to be a writer grew as she got older. Last year she attended the first Dominican Writers Conference and met Angela Abreu, the director of the organization and soon afterward attended her first writing workshop.
Marilyn is a public school teacher and currently lives in the Bronx with her two teenage children. She also has an adult son and a granddaughter who spends the summers with her. Her passions include spending time with her family, traveling, and doing capoeira.