Blanca Perez-Solarte

Blanca Perez-Solarte

Update: 2022-12-29


Marisol’s mom, Blanca, joins the podcast to talk family history, growing up in poverty along the US/Mexico border, teenage pregnancy, hard work, her love of Kool-Aid, and finding joy regardless of the circumstances. 

Blanca’s story includes being born and raised in Mission, TX in a three-room home without running water. Largely raised by her grandparents who were field workers, her parents met one another while also working in the cotton fields of the Rio Grande valley in Texas. Blanca’s mother gave birth to her at age 16 and became a single mother soon after as Blanca’s father José left the family when Blanca and her brother Joe (José) were still toddlers.   

The neighborhood where Blanca was raised was a tight-knit community where outgrown shoes that no longer served one family were given to another family equally in need. It was also the location of a factory that previously manufactured toxic pesticides that are now illegal to use. The danger of the site was unknown to the surrounding community, and when the plant closed the neighborhood used the empty, contaminated structure to hold mercados. The neighborhood children regularly played in the toxic dirt and abandoned pesticide containers. As a result, many residents still struggle with cancers, birth defects, and other illnesses related to the toxic exposure. 

Blanca tells the story of finding and reuniting with her father at age 14. With the help of her tia, Blanca finds her father and grandmother living in nearby Progreso, TX. She continued to have a relationship with her father since that time and encouraged her brother Joe to have a relationships with him as well.

Blanca’s mother Guadalupe left for Illinois for work when Blanca was eight, leaving her with her grandparents until she made the move to Illinois at 13. It was moving to a mostly white community that she first experienced prejudice. It was in Carpentersville that Blanca met Marisol’s ‘nerdy jock’ dad after he recently immigrated to the US from Colombia. Blanca became pregnant with Marisol at 15 and gave birth to her at 16. Marisol’s father was 17. Being a single mom, Blanca was forced to drop out of high school but earned her GED when she was 20.

Marisol was four when her parents got married, and she was the flower girl—and ring thief! The family moved in together for the first time and saved for a house before they got pregnant with another child. To be able to have a home and be able to provide for her children, as opposed to her childhood, brought Blanca great joy. 

The loss of her grandfather, also named Guadalupe, who was a loving father figure throughout her life, is the most difficult experience Blanca has faced. 

Finally, Marisol and Blanca also reminisce about the old neighborhood. And, no, Blanca will never leave Carpentersville—which she affectionately (and correctly) calls the ‘hood. They also talk through how being a young mom has impacted their mother-daughter relationship. 

Watch this episode here -

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LinkedIn: Marisol

If you are interested in Marisol Solarte-Erlacher supporting your business or organization by speaking or training on topics such as Work Trauma for BIPOC women, Racial Battle Fatigue, supporting mental health in traumatic times, and building resilience in employees and resilient leadership in BIPOC women. Contact her directly at if you want to learn more.

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Production Credits

Art: Maite Nazario |

Music: Inte-Gritty by Bianca Mikahn

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Blanca Perez-Solarte

Blanca Perez-Solarte