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How I found my voice as a feminist of color

In the summer of 2006, I lost my words. I’d been working as a paramedic for a few years and death wasn’t an aberration to me anymore. That was the year Imette St. Guillen was kidnapped, raped and murdered; her body dumped in an East New York backstreet. The same year, two young men were on trial for kidnapping Romona Moore while she was on her way home; they had tortured her for days before killing her. Moore's mother said that when she tried to file a report with the 67th Precinct, the responding officers said Romona was probably off with a boyfriend and she’d show up soon.

The papers were full of Imette, a light-skinned Latina read as white by the media. Each detail of her disappearance and discovery and the ensuing manhunt were splashed across the headlines in frantic capitals.  We didn’t hear anything about Romona, who was black, unless we dug deep into the local sections, and even then it was only a paragraph or two.  I wasn’t surprised: I’d already learned not to bother checking to see if any of my patients had made it to the dailies. Black deaths don’t sell papers.

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