Sofia Celesté Dower-Vasquez is a Peruvian-American poet from Richmond, California. The East Bay Area native has spent the last two years studying at the University of Hawai’i, double majoring in Psychology & Ethnic Studies. Throughout her time on the island, Sofia has continued to explore her connection with poetry. Growing up in a family where self expression was strongly encouraged, Sofia picked up the art of storytelling. In her work, she focuses on the divine energy that has surrounded her and shaped the woman she has grown up to be.
Sofia sat down with Davina Ferreira to discuss her work in the LatinX Poetry Project, as well as her experience as an Afro-Latinx woman.
As an Afro-Indigenous LatinX student/activist, what is something you hope young people learn from you?
I hope people hear my truth and are able to connect with the things I talk about. If that's through my writing, on my podcast, Brown and Bonita Podcast, or anything in between, I hope they feel heard and find solace in my story.
When it comes to activism, I think it is super important for people to feel validated and never be afraid to ask questions and for more intel on what is going on in the world. I think there is a very toxic stigma people have in asking a wrong question so they don’t ask at all. But I think it’s so vital to ask questions to further understand and start these conversations. Knowledge is power.
When did your love for poetry begin?
As cliche as it sounds, I have always been a storyteller. From a young age, I was the little girl who always had a pen and notebook in my hand and would write anything and everything that came to mind. But I started taking my poetry more seriously when I entered high school. It is a creative outlet that helped me express myself and what I was feeling.
What has been the best part of belonging to The LatinX Poetry Project?
The best part is feeling the love and support we all give each other. As Latinos, we are all proud of where we come from and the countries/cultures we are representing. It is so uplifting to share the same love for writing with these individuals and it is so sacred to have been given the opportunity to put our work out there and create this safe space to tell our truths.
In your opinion, how can we all become more involved in creating daily social change through activism?
Through educating yourself and those around you. Having conversations with your peers, even if it makes you uncomfortable talking about what is happening and has been happening in the world within or to communities of color.
Specifically, for our white allies who feel like it’s not their place or don’t know how to be an active ally in a movement that is trying to take down a system geared towards building them up and tearing black and brown people down. Listen. Learn. Hear us. This is your time to be quiet and let us lead. We know you don’t feel our pain in the same way but it is so important for you guys to be just as mad as us. It means so much to actively engage and support BIPOC communities, ESPECIALLY THE BLACK COMMUNITY!!! Supporting in every aspect as well. Mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, etc.
Put money into BIPOC owned businesses, whether professional and/or creative.
Follow Sofia at @sofiadarling_