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This Latina reporter and author urges women of color not to 'lose sight of our own value'

"We are acculturated to constantly be grateful, to not ask for more," said MSNBC "Morning Joe" reporter Daniela Pierre-Bravo, author of "The Other."
Image: Author, Daniela Pierre-Bravo.
Author Daniela Pierre-Bravo.Anthony Scutro

Journalist Daniela Pierre-Bravo is familiar with the struggle to fit in and belong.

An on-air reporter for MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Pierre-Bravo, 31, has collected her experiences and life lessons in a new book, “The Other: How To Own Your Power at Work as a Woman of Color.” (MSNBC and NBC News are both owned by NBCUniversal.)

Instead of feeling like an outsider in professional settings, she wants readers to embrace their authenticity, cultivate self-acceptance and believe they deserve their success.  

Pierre-Bravo's parents brought her to the U.S. from Chile at age 11. She grew up in a small town in Ohio, where, as she wrote, her then-boyfriend’s mother asked her, “So, are you an alien?” An undocumented immigrant, her sense of “otherness” drove her to zealously pursue higher education and a career.

Pierre-Bravo put herself through college by cleaning homes, working at a restaurant, selling makeup and babysitting. For an unpaid internship, she fibbed that she lived in New York City and then took an overnight bus from Ohio to Manhattan for an interview the next morning, as she explained in the book.

“If hustle culture were its own city,” she wrote in the book, “I’d be the mayor.”

Image: "The Other" book by author Daniela Pierre-Bravo.
"The Other" by Daniela Pierre-Bravo.Tree Abraham/Alicia Tatone / LegacyLit Books

In an interview with NBC News, Pierre-Bravo said her book “is for women like me, who have worked hard to get a seat at the table.”

“We are acculturated to constantly be grateful, to not ask for more, and to assume that our good work will be noticed,” Pierre-Bravo said. While these unwritten rules may work for women of color at first, she explained, women often reach a professional ceiling that they cannot break until they assert and empower themselves. 

There is “no better time to be a young woman of color” than right now, Pierre-Bravo emphasized, “because the tide is shifting. People, companies, they want to hear from us.”

Pierre-Bravo’s life changed in June 2012, when then-President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It allowed her and 800,000 other people who were brought to the U.S. as children but lack legal status to live and work without fear of deportation.

'We have earned our success'

After she applied and got DACA status, Pierre-Bravo felt unstoppable. Yet she has since learned that operating in survival mode and having a continual mindset of gratitude can be harmful.

"In our families, we are taught to be grateful, to stay humble, and that is a beautiful thing. But at work, this is a problem, because we lose sight of our own value. And holding on to this idea of being 'grateful' negates the fact that we have earned our success."

In 2019, Pierre-Bravo teamed up with her mentor Mika Brzezinski to co-author “Earn It!” a book aimed at helping young women navigate their careers. Pierre-Bravo has also written for Cosmopolitan, New York magazine and NBC Latino.

Despite her professional success, Pierre-Bravo still lives with uncertainty. The DACA program has been challenged repeatedly in court, and its fate remains uncertain. For now, DACA recipients like Pierre-Bravo can renew their applications, but the program is closed to new enrollees.

“If I were to speculate on each and every ruling, I would drive myself crazy,” Pierre-Bravo said. “The truth of our reality is that it is uncertain, messy and the source of frustration for a lot of us.”

She hopes the narrative around DACA will change, to focus on what the U.S. would lose by ending the program.

During the pandemic, Pierre-Bravo created Acceso, an online platform dedicated to opportunity and mentorship for young women.

“Being Latina, there are limited spaces where you can find mentorship,” said Rosalia Rivera, a consent educator and abuse prevention specialist who has participated in Acceso. “I like this platform because it had a very focused and intimate feel, and it really spoke to me in terms of where I am in my career so far.”

Rivera said Acceso helped her gain more confidence in handling negotiations and growing her business.

“A lot of times, we tend to think that once we leave school, we are on our own. But the value of mentorship is incredible,” she said. “Daniela was very raw and hands-on about her journey, and I felt that she brought a lot of wisdom, knowledge and experience to the table.”

The professional obstacles that Latinas like Pierre-Bravo and Rivera face are significant. A study this year by the National Women’s Law Center found that Latinas earn 57 cents for every dollar paid to a non-Hispanic man and that Latinas have to work at least 21 months to match a white man’s yearly income.

According to Maria Chávez, professor of political science at Pacific Lutheran University, it is not uncommon for professional Latinas to feel stress both in the workplace and at home.

“We have to negotiate professional structures that diminish, racialize and demean us, and home environments that can suppress and control us,” she said. “There is beauty in our culture, in our connections and bonds, but not when it comes to the point of stifling ambitions.”

As Latinas climb the career ladder, Chávez noted, they may feel increasingly alienated from colleagues and co-workers as well as from family members.

“Being a successful professional Latina in places where there are few of us can come at a huge cost. It takes a toll on us, mentally and physically, in ways that do not contribute to personal thriving,” she said.

Chávez feels that until the number of Latinas is greater in fields like academia, law and medicine, the goal of positive work environments will remain elusive. “We won’t have a healthy, multiracial society until we achieve more healthy, inclusive work environments,” she said.

With “The Other,” Pierre-Bravo hopes that young women can benefit from her journey and learn how to move ahead.

“I could give a woman five tips about how to stand up for herself in the workplace,” she said. “But if you don’t understand your value from deep within you, you will never be able to step into the full power of your duality.”

“My story is just one of many Latinas, of many women,” she added. “When we take control of our narrative, we go from reactive to proactive — from earning it to owning it.”

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