AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Finally this hour, we're going to introduce you to another Brazilian writer. Twenty-year-old Yasmin Thayna discovered her love for writing as a teenager after she was discovered in a local program aimed at cultivating artistic talent in low-income communities.
Her story, "Mc K-Bela," was published in the Brazilian literary magazine Flupp Pensa. It features the work of writers from favelas and what Yasmin calls the people's neighborhoods. In the story, Thayna, who is black, writes about her decision to cut off her chemically straightened hair and let it go natural. Here she is reading an excerpt from "Mc K-Bela."
YASMIN THAYNA: (Through translator) Strong pleas echoed over in Africa, sending me, with generosity and affirmation of self-esteem, two beautiful figures who fortified my weak strands, hidden in despair: Carla Cris Campos, who put her light hands on my head, and Bruno F. Duarte, who made me look in the mirror with confidence. Bruno made me realize that hair is the mark that registers our encounters with the world and with life.
(Through translator) I always wanted to make literature with my hair, hair that spreads outward like an octopus, expanding from encounters in remote regions of Rio de Janeiro and from experiences with my family. Carla cleaned a part of my head that for 18 years had allowed seemingly endless resentment to lodge in it.
(Through translator) Carla is daring. Months after the seeping wounds that the chemical horror sessions left in my scalp, she took her green blunted school scissors, sat me in a wooden chair at her dinner table, and gave me a mirror to hold. Putting her hands in a strand linked directly to my chest, she felt the bitterness and said: you'll be beautiful because the most important part of being beautiful is feeling beautiful.
(Through translator) There, I knew myself at last. It was an afternoon of growing up and acceptance. I could see, that afternoon, that the map of Africa is similar to the map of Brazil, this country where I was born, a fatherland, making a connection in its territorial design just as it does through customs and its ethnic beauty. I was never so beautiful.
CORNISH: That was Yasmin Thayna reading an excerpt from her story "Mc K-Bela." The translation was read by Priska Neely.