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Writers Against Racism: Lady Q – The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen

I remember my days as a news producer for WCBS-TV in New York and covering gang related stories, which always tended to focus around drugs and violence. Never did I profile the people in the gang. Maybe it was fear. I don’t know. But at that time, it really didn’t matter to me. I was more driven by the fact that in the 90s, NYC was being overrun, and had a huge epidemic of drugs and violence, all thanks to gangs which were ruining our city.


Years later, and probably because of my age, the fact that I am a parent and a teacher, who these young people are now matters to me. So when I was asked by my friend Nilki, to review a book about a former female gang member, my interest was piqued, but for different reasons than the drugs and violence.    

Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queenby Reymundo Sanchez and Sonia Rodriguez (Chicago Review Press; July 1, 2008) is a heartbreaking story about a  real life (former) gang leader whose life, as it unfolds is beyond tragic.  

Sonia shares her exclusive story with Reymundo Sanchez, who, too, is a former gang member, and a staunch advocate on getting the word out about gangs, so that parents can understand that neglect is the trigger that shoots the bullet, which in this case are the kids, into gangs.   

“By the time Reymundo Sanchez was thirteen, he was estranged from his Puerto Rican mother and stepfather, hanging out with a Chicago gang known as the Latin Kings. ” (Chicago Review Press via RalphMag)
What struck me very early on in Lady Q was that Sonia and I are the same age.  This reality was what kept going through my mind page after page.  Here we both have kids, but we grew up differently. And when I was a little girl watching television and playing tennis, Sonia was being beaten, sexually abused and selling drugs.  But it didn’t start out that way for her. Sonia did have dreams. She did well in school, and was trying to do the right thing.
“Sonia’s only positive outlet was education. She loved social studies the most, especially learning about wars. She was at the top of her class in all subjects and secretly rejoiced because she knew she was smarter than the popular kids.”  (via Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen)
But unfortunately that popularity in school was annihilated by the abuse she endured at home which lured her to the streets; which for Sonia was like quicksand. Once she got in, there was no way to get out.
“She felt empowered as the plane touched down at O’Hare International Airport. Not only did she feel like she was home, but also, now that the gang had accepted her as one of thier own, she was in the only place in the world where nobody could hurt her without repercussions.” (via Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen)
Throughout Sonia’s story what SCREAMS to me over and over is, “MOM! I NEED YOUR LOVE AND PROTECTION!” And I credit Sanchez for focusing on this because proper parenting is the key to gang prevention
“I hope her story helps parents open their eyes to the damage their abuse causes, helps young girls change their minds about joining a gang even when their home life is impossible and encourages the to seek healthier options….” (via Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen Prologue)
Reymundo, you certainly opened my eyes that were once shut. Thank you for writing this very important book and for finding Sonia aka Lady Q.


  1. I read the post a few days ago. I didn’t comment then, but it still vivid in my memory. A tale of survival. It made me wonder how many more cries for help are not heard…

  2. Nathalie, I’m sure there are too many voices for words. A sad testimony.

  3. I don’t think anything are better than a good brain tickling blog article.

  4. It’s so great to know you are a writer that cares about the information you provide. This is smartly done and well-written in my opinion.

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