Feministing Readz: Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed

A photo of the front cover of "A Cup of Water Under My Bed,"picturing a young girl posing in front of a car in an urban setting. The photo appears to be old, and is probably of Hernandez when she was a child.As soon as I finished the last page of A Cup of Water Under My Bed, I pulled out my phone and searched the words “card reader” into Yelp. Then I tried “mãe de santa,” then “candomblé” then “santería,” but none of the terms really summed up the kind of guidance I had brushed up against through my mother, my cousins, my aunts. In her book, Daisy Hernandez reminds us that often, we do not know how to name or thank the women who shape our journey. The women her parents sought out for spiritual support were referred to as simply “las mujeres que saben,” in her house, the “women who know.”

I eventually found a woman named Yolanda with 30 reviews on her botanica’s Yelp page. The next morning, I made an appointment to get my first reading as a young adult, confused at a crossroads and looking for answers that no listicle, therapist or career advisor would give me.

Hernandez’s coming-of-age memoir, A Cup of Water Under My Bed, explores some of the questions we face as young adults navigating gender, race, migration and sexuality in a world that imposes such strict borders on us. She writes her experiences as a queer Latina and daughter of immigrants like a compilation of anecdotes which ultimately tell a whole history. Reading the book is like looking at a life through a piece of holey lace crocheted by your tia.

Hernandez frequently touches upon code-switching and the uncomfortable spaces she had to navigate in order to achieve “success” as defined by capitalistic, white norms of living: “I had to leave [my mother], too. It was me, not my mother, who needed English, who needed the stories and feminist theories. Without them, I might never have come back to her” (32 Hernandez).

Hernandez’s work as a writer, a co-editor of the feminist anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, and the former editor of Colorlines magazine, are all products of the work she did within oppressive systems and the experiences she had within her family and community. As she explains in her book, writing has served as her means of navigating multiple worlds and staying true to herself in the process. For Hernandez, “… writing makes everything else possible. Writing is how I learn to love my father and where I come from. Writing is how I leave him and also how I take him with me” (147 Hernandez).

I can relate. Check out A Cup of Water Under My Bed to read more!

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Juliana needs more “women who know” in her life.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Campaigner at Change.org, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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