Scholar Stories: Dra. Mónica González Ybarra

How do you use writing or art in your life?

I’m a reader-writer. When I was younger, I actually hated reading and I didn’t particularly enjoy writing. It wasn’t until I began reading books written by Women of Color that I became inspired by the ways they used their voices to tell their stories and the stories of their families and communities. They inspired me to write. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost my voice or like I can’t find the right words to say or name how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking, I read. I read poetry, short stories, testimonios, and even research articles, from my favorite authors and scholars I admire. I then go back to my writing, and I listen to their voices and hear them guiding me as I tell my story.

What lessons/teachings from your family, home and/or community do you draw on in your teaching and/or scholarship?

I have so many memories of being a child sitting with the adults in my family, especially my mom, my tias, and my abuela. As everyone sat together they talked, laughed, and cried. They shared stories of their childhoods, their im/migration stories, recipes, and remedios. They asked for help, they leaned on each other in pain, and they supported each other. The conversations that unfolded in these spaces taught me about love, heartache, history, joy, and survival. These pláticas taught me how to re-think where knowledge comes and how I can support students and teachers in looking at the knowledge that comes from spaces similar to the ones my family created and continues to create.

What would you tell your younger self?

I would tell myself that that my story- as a brown, silly, trying to be cool yet totally nerdy, creative, gordita—is an important story to tell.   

Advice for new scholars and/or teachers:

My advice for teachers would be to center students in writing. How can classroom writing projects highlight who students are, who they are becoming, and everything in between? How can writing be a way to learn about them, their families, and their communities? How can these projects provide lenses to see them? Really see them.

Something else you want to share?

Over the past few years I have become an avid reader of young adult literature. As I flip the pages of books like The Poet X, Gabi a Girl in Pieces, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and The Education of Margot Sanchez, I wonder how these books would have impacted my love for reading and writing when I was the age of some of the characters in these novels. I guess I’ll never truly know. For now, they bring me joy and help me heal the wounds brought about by silencing and erasure in school. 

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