Michele Serros, author of Chicana Falsa and How to Be a Chicana Role Model died January 4 at the age of 48. Serros had been battling cancer, and passed at home in Berkeley, California.
Michele Serros first came into my life in tenth grade, when I stole her book How to Be a Chicana Role Model from the school library and read it over and over, enamored of Serros' easy prose, her conversational writing style, her honesty and her incredible sense of humor. Since age 15, she's been one of my favorite authors and her books were my first foray into issues of cultural humility and microaggressions—especially through her excellent essay about people asking her where she was from as a way to determine her ethnicity. Her response? Always Oxnard.
One of the most admirable things about Serros' writing is that it was accessible to teens and adults alike, presenting important cultural issues in real-life ways and teaching lessons on diversity, equality and respect even while the reader thought they were only being entertained.
Serros' fans (who all know that she is not Sandra Cisneros, although the two have been mistaken for each other) will mourn not only her passing, but the fact that Serros' voice, which was so needed in the literary community, will rise no more. She leaves behind her cutting humor, her warmth (evident in every page of her work) and her brutal honesty about love, life and culture as her legacy. Many of us will regret loving her work quietly, sharing it with others but not taking the opportunity to attend one of Serros' readings or speaking events.
Serros' husband, Antonio Magaña, wrote this heartfelt post on Serros' Facebook page, announcing her life transition:
It is with great honor, privilege, and a heavy heart to announce the life transition of author, artist, poet, and Oxnard native Michele Serros on January 4, 2015. Michele's wondrous birth into this world was on February 10, 1966 to her loving parents Mr. and Mrs. George and Beatrice (d.1991) Serros and sister Yvonne Serros in the unincorporated city of El Rio, California. Michele began her academic career by attending Rio Del Valle Elementary School, Rio Mesa HS and Santa Clara HS. After graduating, Michele enrolled at Ventura College then Santa Monica City College before transferring to and earning her B.A., cum laude in Chicana and Chicano Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1996. Michele published her first novel, "Chicana Falsa" in 1994 while still a student at Santa Monica City College and her second novel, "How To Be A Chicana Role Model" later in 2000. In 2002, Michele was hired as a staff writer for the first season of the George Lopez Show. Later, in 2004, she signed with Simon and Schuster to pen the young adult novels, "Honey Blonde Chica" and the sequel, "¡Scandalosa!." During all of this, Michele toured as a motivational speaker, delivering commencement speeches and participating in book signings and book fairs all over the country. She met her husband, restaurateur, Antonio Magaña, in the summer of 2010. They were engaged on Christmas day that same year and were married the following June on the rooftop of the judges chambers in New York City.
Already an established author, Michele was a regular contributor to the Los Baltierras Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Marie Clare, Ms. Magazine, CosmoGirl and contributed satirical commentaries for National Public Radio (Latino USA, Morning Edition Weekend, All Things Considered, Anthem, Along for the Ride, and The California Report) while continuously championing various organizations for the advancement of women, our youth, and the Xicano culture. She recorded, "Selected Stories from Chicana Falsa" for Mercury Records and was selected by The Getty Research Institute and the Poetry Society of America to have her poetry placed on MTA buses throughout Los Angeles County. In 2002, Michele was chosen by PEN Center USA to write and perform an original piece honoring John Steinbeck to commemorate the Twentieth Century Masters Tribute where she shared the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts' stage with literary luminaries: Arthur Miller, William Kennedy, Dorothy Allison, Studs Terkel, Peter Matthiessen and George Plimpton. A true feminista, Michele also reveled in surfing, bowling, skateboarding (long board), swimming, bicycle rides to the pool, arts and crafts with her step-daughter, picture framing, sewing, polar bear dives on New Year's Day and cooking delicious vegan meals from scratch - but not all in that order.
Michele's brilliant spirit took flight to join her mother among the infinite heavens while recuperating between alternative cancer treatments. She was at her home where she was spending time enjoying that which brought her joy, happiness and peace. For Michele, life was not a fight that was to be won or lost, but enjoyed as a wonderful journey and to be experienced with a firm sense of purpose, curiosity, tenacity, hard work and never-failing courage—all of which she continually displayed with her wit, humor, charm, humility, dignity, grace and of course style. She never quit. Michele will be greatly missed by everyone her life touched in so many ways. An inspiration to her family, friends and fans all around the world, Michele Serros will always be the original Chicana Role Model. May her body rest in peace, her soul rest in power and her words rest in eternal vibration.
Her biggest and most loyal fan,
with all my love and adoration,
Michele and Antonio would like to deeply thank all of you, our family which includes - friends, fans and professional staff (hospital, clinic, home health care and hospice) for providing limitless encouragement, intuitive guidance, loyal support, helpful resources, thoughtful gifts, nourishing food, boundless time and everlasting love.
In lieu of flowers/gifts, Michele humbly requested that you please contribute to her Give Forward campaign. Donations can be made online at:
or sent via mail to:
3031 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Michele Serros will be greatly missed. If you have the time, you should check out her catalogue today. Start with this blog post, in which Serros discusses her cancer in the way she wrote about everything, openly and honestly.
Image via Facebook
You're reading The Muse, Jezebel's new home for pop culture.