Charis welcomes Daisy Hernández in conversation with Lupita Aquino for a discussion of the paperback release of The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease. Through unsparing, gripping, and humane portraits, Hernández chronicles a story vast in scope and urgent in its implications, exposing how poverty, racism, and public policies have conspired to keep this disease hidden. A riveting and nuanced investigation into racial politics and for-profit healthcare in the United States, The Kissing Bug reveals the intimate history of a marginalized disease and connects us to the lives at the center of it all. This event is co-hosted by the Feminist Women's Health Center and their Lifting Latinx Voices Initiative.
Growing up in a New Jersey factory town in the 1980s, Daisy Hernández believed that her aunt had become deathly ill from eating an apple. No one in her family, in either the United States or Colombia, spoke of infectious diseases. Even into her thirties, she only knew that her aunt had died of Chagas, a rare and devastating illness that affects the heart and digestive system. But as Hernández dug deeper, she discovered that Chagas—or the kissing bug disease—is more prevalent in the United States than the Zika virus.
After her aunt’s death, Hernández began searching for answers. Crisscrossing the country, she interviewed patients, doctors, epidemiologists, and even veterinarians with the Department of Defense. She learned that in the United States more than three hundred thousand people in the Latinx community have Chagas, and that outside of Latin America, this is the only country with the native insects—the “kissing bugs”—that carry the Chagas parasite.
Daisy Hernández is the author of The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation’s Neglect of a Deadly Disease (Tin House, 2021), which won the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and was selected as an inaugural title for the National Book Foundation’s Science + Literature Program. The book was named a top 10 nonfiction book of 2021 by Time magazine and was a finalist for the New American Voices Award. She has spoken about the subject of her book—neglected disease and racial disparities in healthcare—on MSBNC and also with the Carter Center and the Pan American Health Organization. Her memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed (Beacon Press, 2014) won the IPPY Award for best coming-of-age memoir and Lambda Literary’s Dr. Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award. The memoir was also a Publishing Triangle Award finalist. She co-edited the classic feminist anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism (Seal Press), which was first published in 2002 and has become a widely taught text in women’s and gender studies courses. She coedited a new edition in 2019, and the anthology has been praised by scholars and media outlets including USA Today and Buzzfeed for its contribution to understandings of intersectionality.
Lupita Aquino--better known as Lupita Reads--is a passionate literary enthusiast amplifying and highlighting books written by authors of color through her Instagram blog. She currently lives in the greater Washington D.C area, and you can find her on Instagram at @lupita.reads, on Twitter at@Lupita_Reads, or catch her writing about books for She Reads dot com or via her column over at Washington Independent Review of Books.
Feminist Women's Health Center is a reproductive health, rights, and justice organization. They provide direct services including abortion care, and they provide education, advocacy, and leadership development opportunities. They also build movements with people across all axes of oppression so that we have the rights, resources, and respect to make empowered, informed decisions about our own bodies and health. Learn more about their work at feministcenter.org. Lifting Latinx Voices Initiative (LLVI) is the only Latinx-led program in Georgia that focuses on addressing comprehensive reproductive and sexual health issues faced by Latinx families. For over 12 years, LLVI's innovative grassroots work has created key partnerships by providing education, outreach, and leadership development opportunities. By placing our voices, our stories, and our leadership at the center of our efforts as diverse Latinx people, we’ve been able to build connections and trust, while strengthening the movement for reproductive justice in Georgia.
This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage
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Winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
National Book Foundation Science + Literature Selection
Finalist for New American Voices Award and Lammy Award for Bisexual Nonfiction
Newly revised and updated, this landmark anthology offers gripping portraits of American life as seen through the eyes of young women of color
The PEN Literary Award–winning author “writes with honesty, intelligence, tenderness, and love” about her Colombian-Cuban heritage and queer identity in this poignant coming-of-age memoir (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street)