cover image My Time to Speak: Reclaiming Ancestry and Confronting Race

My Time to Speak: Reclaiming Ancestry and Confronting Race

Ilia Calderón. Atria, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9821-0385-9

Afro-Latina Univision news anchor Calderon takes on racism in this fascinating memoir. She opens with a frightening scene in 2016: during an interview in rural North Carolina—out of cell phone range—a Ku Klux Klan leader threatens to “burn” her (he lit a cross on fire, but allowed her to leave). In the ensuing chapters, Calderón shares her life experiences, beginning with her childhood growing up mixed-race in Istmina, a small, isolated town in Colombia, where she is raised by her mother and grandfather in the 1970s. (Of her ethnicity, she writes: “Colombian, Latina, Hispanic, Afro-Colombian, mixed, and anything else people may want to call me or I choose to call myself, but I’m always black.”) Calderon studied social work in college, but when she learned of an opening at a local TV news show, she auditioned and landed the spot. Her story then unfolds in a series of journalistic career moves; she eventually came to America to work for Telemundo and then Univision, where she became the first Afro-Latina to host the evening news. Whether covering Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017 or reporting on caravans at the southern border in 2018, Calderon stresses the importance of confronting racism head on, using her platform to report on and expose injustice. Calderon’s powerful story will resonate with readers. (Aug.)