Boricuas, both in the diaspora and on the archipelago, are major cultural producers; however, our critics aren't often given opportunities to write criticism about our own art, culture and politics. With financial support from Critical Minded, a grantmaking and learning initiative that supports cultural critics of color, Orlando-based Puerto Rican journalist Raquel Reichard is launching Escribe, Mi Gente: A Puerto Rican Cultural Critics Mentorship Program. For one month, six emerging writers will be paired with a leading Puerto Rican critic to prepare a work of cultural criticism on politics, music, film/TV, literature or visual arts. The program will culminate in a digital and print journal of the essays the mentees produce. Each mentee will receive a stipend of $300 for their contribution to the journal. Escribe, Mi Gente is also excited to be partnering with Defend Puerto Rico, a multimedia project designed to document and celebrate Puerto Rican creativity, resilience and resistance; the group will provide financial support for journal printing and photography. Defend PR will match and pay Puerto Rican photographers to contribute visuals for each essay.
Applicants will submit their application and writing sample (unpublished pieces will also be considered). A selection committee will choose six writers to participate in the mentorship and writing program. Each mentee will be paired with a mentor and write an 800-1,200-word essay of cultural criticism, which will be published in a digital and print journal.
Emerging cultural critics of Puerto Rican descent. English-language and Spanish-language applicants are welcome.
Applications are due Sunday, August 22, 2021.
Selected mentees will have one month to complete their essays, which will be due on Friday, October 1, 2021.
HOW TO APPLY:
Apply by filling out this Google Form and then sending your writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photojournalists interested in contributing visuals for the essays should contact Mikey Cordero at email@example.com.
Meet the Mentors
Natasha S. Alford, She/Her
Journalist & commentator
Natasha S. Alford is an award-winning journalist, host and millennial media executive driven by the power of storytelling to inspire and change people’s lives. As the Vice President of Digital Content and a Senior Correspondent for theGrio digital network, Natasha leads strategic creative vision and production for all original content on theGrio. Natasha is also a CNN Political Analyst, where she offers commentary on the news, politics and movements of the moment. Alford's writing and on-air commentary has appeared on numerous other outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian, Vogue, MSNBC, The Breakfast Club and The Oprah Magazine.
William García-Medina, He/Him
Writer, historian & educator
William García-Medina is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of American Studies at the University of Kansas. In 2016, García-Medina earned an MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Teachers College–Columbia University in New York City with a focus on historical literacies in elementary schools. He also has a BA and MA in history from the University of Puerto Rico-Recintode Río Piedras. He tweets from @afrolatinoed.
Ed Morales, He/Him
Author, journalist & professor
Ed Morales is an author and journalist who has written for The Nation, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Jacobin and the Guardian. He was a staff writer at the Village Voice and columnist at Newsday. He is the author of Latinx: The New Force in Politics and Culture (Verso Books, 2018), Living in Spanglish (St. Martins, 2002) and The Latin Beat: From Rumba to Rock (Da Capo Press, 2003). His new book, Fantasy Island: Colonialism, Exploitation, and the Betrayal of Puerto Rico, was published in September 2019 by Bold Type Press. Morales is a lecturer at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Carmen Phillips, She/Her
Journalist & Editor
Dr. Carmen Phillips is the Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com, the longest running and largest independently owned LGBTQ women's digital publication of its size, a legacy brand with over 2.5 million views per month. She’s been at Autostraddle for more than four years, first as a freelance writer and then eventually working her way up to Senior Editor, and now EIC. Carmen is a Black Puerto Rican feminist writer, educator and editor. She's proud to be an up-and-coming leader in independent queer media, and equally proud of her past work mentoring in the classroom. She holds a PhD in American Studies (with an emphasis in African American and Latinx political history and pop culture) from New York University. She looks forward to mentoring other writers and thinkers, especially Puerto Rican writers, that are shaping how we talk about our investments in pop culture, the conversations that surround them, and cultural criticism at this moment. She claims many homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn and Buffalo, NY.
Sandra D. Rodríguez Cotto, She/Her
Sandra D. Rodríguez Cotto is a journalist with decades of experience in Puerto Rico, the United States and several Latin American countries. She works as a news and policy analyst, radio commentator, television producer, columnist and blogger. She conducts her syndicated radio program En Blanco y Negro con Sandra Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. local time in more than 10 radio stations that belong to networks Cadena WIAC, X-61, Radio Raíces and Radio Grito. She is also a political analyst for WPAB 650 AM Ponce. Additionally, she's a contributor to several media outlets in the U.S. (El Diario La Prensa, All Digitocracy, Huffington Post, USA Today, Politico Magazine) and the Public Relations Portal of Latin America, based in Argentina. She has authored more than five books on communication and journalism.
Carina del Valle Schorske, She/Her
Carina del Valle Schorske is a writer and translator living between Brooklyn and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her work has appeared in many venues including The Believer, Bookforum, The Common, Virginia Quarterly Review and the New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer. Alongside Ricardo Maldonado, Raquel Salas Rivera and Erica Mena, she edited the bilingual poetry anthology Puerto Rico en mi corazón to raise funds for hurricane relief. Her forthcoming book, The Other Island, won a Creative Nonfiction Grant from the Whiting Foundation in 2020.