Born in Harlem to Dominican parents, award-winning journalist, cultural activist, podcaster, and documentary filmmaker Raquel Cepeda is the author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina. Equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry, the book also looks at what it means to be Latino today. Cepeda’s next book, East of Broadway, is the story of one community in New York, the author’s beloved Inwood, as seen through the lives of several of its inhabitants, as a way of shedding light on the impact of gentrification.
Cepeda is the co-founder and co-host of Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race, also known as ABOUT RACE, on The Slate Group’s Panoply Network. Cepeda directed and produced the VH1/UNDP, produced award-nominated Bling: A Planet Rock, a feature documentary about American hip-hop culture’s obsession with diamonds and how the infatuation with “blinging” became intertwined in Sierra Leone’s decade long conflict. She is currently in post-production on Some Girls, a documentary focusing on a group of troubled teenage girls from a Bronx-based suicide prevention program who are transformed by an exploration of their roots. In November 2014, for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Cepeda was presented with an award from celebrated Dominican artist German Perez at the United Nations in recognition of the courage reflected in her literature, her commitment to denouncing violence against women, and her work in promoting young women’s empowerment.