Daisy Hernandez ’97: Sharing Her Life Story

Feminist writer Daisy Hernandez, who graduated from William Paterson in 1997, has written a memoir about her childhood

Daisy Hernandez

At the relatively young age of 39, the well-known feminist writer Daisy Hernandez who graduated from William Paterson in 1997, has written a memoir of her childhood growing up in Fairview in a large extended Cuban-Colombian family, soaking up the stories and memories of the women in the clan.

With the publication this month of her book, A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir, she is using the traditions discussed to forge an untraditional life that is very different than that of her elders.

“I believe that people of all ages should write a memoir,” she says. “Because of my background as an editor and journalist, I felt the book should be a memoir. In journalism there were always stories that we, as outsiders, couldn’t get when covering communities of color. So I, coming from a Latino family in a working class community in northern New Jersey, - and as a bisexual woman - wanted to share my stories, but they needed to be told as true stories.”

In the book, she writes about issues of religion, sexuality, work and race as she experienced it. In one poignant entry she shares her memory of attending an English language school as a Spanish-speaking student.

“Miss Reynolds…speaks the funny language that comes out of the television set at home when we are not watching telenovelas or the noticias…. It is English, a language that sounds like marbles in the mouth….Sitting in the classroom, I wait for Miss Reynolds to start talking like my mother. In Spanish. Surely it won’t be long now. An hour passes. Two hours, an entire day… the same.”

Hernandez is currently on a national book tour to promote A Cup of Water Under My Bed, and is the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for the 2014-15 academic year. There, she teaches a course, Intro to Creative Nonfiction, and is working on another nonfiction book, this time about a parasite endemic to Latin America.

Active in the LGBT community, she credits Arlene Scala, associate professor of women and gender studies, of giving her a sense of community through the Feminist Collective, a campus women’s group. “She is so supportive, compassionate and nonjudgmental,” Hernandez says.

Hernandez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English, coedited the book Colonize This!  Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism, and she continues to speak and write about feminist issues, gay and lesbian topics, and race and politics. Her op-ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, Ms. Magazine, and NPR’s All Things Considered.

The book tour comes to the New York area this month and Hernandez will read from her memoir on September 26 at La Casa Azul in Manhattan at 6:30 p.m.; on September 27 at Las Comadres Conference in Brooklyn at 11 a.m.; and at Bluestockings in Manhattan at 7 p.m. on September 29 with Bushra Rehman, the author of Corona.