I Wrote the Book We All Needed Growing Up Latina

Suanny Garcia New Latina BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Suanny Garcia Barales.

I wrote “The New Latina” when I realized you couldn’t be what you don’t see. But this is how I arrived at that conclusion. 

I don’t know about you, but I grew up during the millennial sweet spot. Yes, I coined that term as the bridge when we were just starting to have internet access, but it wasn’t something that was glued to our fingers 24/7.

That also indicates that I grew up without many images of Latinas in the media to look up to. In fact, I thought being a successful Latina meant you had to be Shakira, JLo, or Sofia Vergara. And while we have plenty to thank them for in terms of paving paths for the rest of us, I wanted to see someone on TV who looked like me.

So as I entered college, I subconsciously started working on seeking other images of influential Latinas. I took courses that dissected the image of the Latina in the media; I dove deep into many Latinx cultures; I learned about race and gender theory; I studied abroad in Cuba. During my last year in school, I created a magazine designed for and by Latinas. It was an exciting project and the catalyst for the book I would eventually write. 

Fast-forward 7 years later, I wrote “The New Latina: 100 Millennials Shaping Our World.” It is the first text to showcase the career and life lessons of 100 influential Latinas from different fields and backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, artists, activists, celebrities, surgeons, vets, to name a few examples. 

For me, it’s the ultimate labor of love dedicated to all Latinas who didn’t know what successes were possible for them growing up — and to those who still don’t. It’s for every Latina who grappled with living within two languages and two cultures, for every Latina who has navigated injustices in the workplace, for Latinas who were ever scared to speak up because of their accent. It’s for all of us who don’t have generational wealth to fall back on, for us who have no choice but to succeed.

And it’s for you who thought you couldn’t make a living through your art, for you who thought you couldn’t change the world as an undocumented immigrant — for every woman who has felt the weight of being Latina, the responsibility, and the power.  

As Latinas, the more we see people whose stories sound like ours, whose faces look like ours, and whose experiences echo our own, the more momentum we have to understand that we can achieve greatness, too. 

There are 100 stories in this book, 100 words of advice from Latinas you might have heard of, and many you might not yet know. It’s the book I needed to read when I was a little girl, and it’s the book I still need now to keep me going.