Keishla Rivera-López


Keishla (Kay-shla) is an American Studies doctoral student at Rutgers University-Newark. She received her B.A. in Latino Hispanic Caribbean Studies and American Studies in 2015 from Rutgers University-New Brunswick where she was a Ronald E. McNair scholar. She was born and raised in Newark, NJ to Puerto Rican migrants and reflects on what it means to be a child of diaspora in her scholarship and writing. In her free time Keishla enjoys writing poetry and essays from her travel and everyday experiences (and struggles) as a Latina woman. She also enjoys experimenting with different sazons and sofritos in the kitchen, hiking, dancing, and traveling.

Feminist Becomings


I was in middle school when I became a feminist.

The terminology wasn’t yet available, but I knew.

I was taught how to cook and wash dishes

while my brothers played video games.

Porque Mami,” I’d question and my mom would reply

with  a “just because” and a stare scolding me to not question the social order.

This look told me everything I needed to know-

No one had questioned gender roles in my family or homeland for generations.

Serving men was an inheritance for a Puerto Rican campesina.

I thought about my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and the other women before me

who accepted their task and rolled their eyes as their husbands asked for

more rice and beans, cafe, or beer.


I was in high school when I declared myself different-

I was going to be the one who denied my inheritance.

I didn’t want to wait on a man.

I didn’t want to live within a numbing routine

My decision to be free would stain me as the troublemaker, the difficult one,

and eventually the one who wasted her time in college.

In college, my intuitive rejection to gender roles were explained

as misogyny and patriarchy which also exist in systemic ways outside of my home.

As the years went on, my fierceness and independence grew

like wildfire threatening to burn what wanted to kill me.

I refused to participate in the cycle of child-bearer, wife, and chef-

without options.

I dictated my life.


I was in college when I realized I wanted to be a mother.

The thought of being a mother eventually became an idea that wasn’t daunting.

I was excited to create a new tradition-

giving my sons and daughters a new discourse,

the one that changed my life and

Would teach my son gender equity.

And to my daughter- she’d learn to be fearless,

to reach her limits, and know she was more than her body.

© The Acentos Review 2017