A self identified “Mexican born in the United States,” Rocío Prado grew up immersed in and somewhat torn between two cultures. Though based in Anaheim, California, Prado and her family frequently trekked to Mexico and Tijuana for weekend visits to family and doctors. Her experiences in Mexico and Baja California juxtaposed with those in Orange County private schools, where classmates often noted her ethnic difference, were difficult to navigate.
Even when in Southern California, Prado existed in a state of constant motion – her mother constantly placed her in different schools that promised a better education. Placelessness, in part, brought Prado to her current research topic at Ohio State. At the suggestion of a mentor, she read the Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez – part of the Love and Rockets series. She immediately identified with the protagonist, Margarita Luisa “Maggie” Chascarrillo, who was punk, queer, and powerful. Additionally, she related to the sense of movement and absence of geographic specificity in the universe Maggie inhabited. This connection inspired Prado to study the world of comics – a realm where she found and still finds relatable characters. For the past two years she’s studied comics and U.S. ethnic pop culture as a PhD student in Ohio State University’s English Department.
Prado is also active in her surrounding community, fighting for justice for those who are undocumented, people of color, and LGBTQ. Listen to our conversation on her activism, research, and comics for this week’s ¡Dímelo, Columbus! and check out some of her work:
Bringing comics & community into the academy:
🎧 Listen (2:47)
“My academic research is always just supplemental to how I see my community. That always comes first. Like what are we doing for us as a group of people – the different communities that my identities are represented by.”
Finding oneself in Love and Rockets:
🎧 Listen (5:07)
“Maggie is the first queer Chicana/punk/awkward person I’ve ever seen… I never thought I would see someone like me in a comic. Or in anything ever. Ever, ever, ever!”
“I was a really introverted quiet child, I think because I had to deal with so many different environments… We would go [to Mexico] and everyone would speak Spanish and it was a huge cultural difference…and then I’d come to the United States and on Monday I would have to go to school… I’ve never had stability, and neither has Maggie… I would go home and be like, I don’t know where Mexico is. I was like, ‘Where is this place we keep going to but I’m not learning about it in the history books?'”
Learning from the Midwest:
🎧 Listen (3:49)
“I’m learning how much Mexicans have to change about how we relate to other people. At home, Mexico is the center of the universe!… That’s one thing I feel really blessed to have learned about here here and the fact that people still connect with me even though we’re so different.”
“I’ve been learning too that there are entire parts of Columbus that are completely made up of migrant populations. I was like ‘what???,’ because no one at home [in Orange County] thinks that. No one at home thinks that there are Mexicans here, or a lot of black people here, or black migrants at all. It’s so surprising to see not only that they’re here, but how long they’ve been here and how long they’ve been resisting oppression with so much less than what we have on the West Coast. It’s so hardcore, their organizing is so hardcore… They do awesome stuff all the time and nobody finds out about it at home.”