Melanie Louise Marte’s Plantains and Our Being is a compelling collection divided into three parts, each offering a unique insight into the author’s multifaceted experiences. The first, Mars, Daughter of the Diaspora, explores personal growth while navigating the challenges of being Afro-Latino. It honestly explores the challenges of feeling like an outsider in your community because of the color of your hair and skin. The author also explores the complexities of being a black woman in America and the daughter of immigrants who made their own way. The book is renowned for its raw vulnerability, giving readers an incisive look at the nuances of family and neighborhood dynamics.
The second part, “The Plantain Story,” explores the historical conflict between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Marte is not afraid to express her divergent opinions about Haitians and people of color in her community. She critiques the societal beauty standards that drive women to undergo surgery and reflects on the exclusion of black and brown voices from narratives of the American dream. Mars takes mashed plantains a step further, giving it deeper meaning through lyrical prose.
The third part, “On Becoming”, serves as a harmonious blend of the first two parts. It explores themes of love, friendship, motherhood and self-care. Marthe’s poetry resonates with the essence of embracing one’s true self and closes the collection with a powerful exploration of love and freedom. The honesty and relevance of these poems are especially relevant to millennial women of color navigating the complexities of identity.
Plantains and Our Becoming is a comprehensive collection that seamlessly blends elements of memoir, call to liberation, and pop culture concerns. Mars’s storytelling skills and ability to capture the essence of shared experiences make this collection an engaging reading experience. It is a celebration of resilience, identity, and the complex tapestry that defines the journeys of women of color, especially those who operate at the intersection of multiple identities.