Latina Mom Writes Poem for Maylin Reynoso & All Girls of Color Whose Deaths Don't Make Headlines

Latina Mom Writes Poem for Maylin Reynoso & All Girls of Color Whose Deaths Don't Make Headlines
Maylin Reynoso (facebook)

With the media’s silence around the disappearance and subsequent death of Bronx dominicana Maylin Reynoso, it’s been her community, online and on the streets, ensuring her story is told and life unforgotten. Some, like the feminist skate crew Brujas, who held a memorial for Reynoso last week, knew the 20-year-old Latina. Others, like poet Elisabet Velasquez, never met the young woman but were moved to action regardless.

MORE: The Media's Silence Around Missing Latina Maylin Reynoso is Horrifying

Velasquez learned of Reynoso last week. She was captivated by an image of the skater’s smile and coiled hair, inspired by her radiant energy before even clicking on an article and learning of Reynoso’s tragic tale. The Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican mother was instantly impacted. “I did not know Maylin personally, but we all know a Black or brown girl who reminds us of Maylin in some way,” she told us.

Saddened by the loss and angered that it did not generate the media attention it deserved, Velasquez took to her pen and paper to dedicate a poem to Reynoso and all other girls of color who disappear or pass away without media attention

“My poem, ‘To The Black And Brown Girls Who Go Missing Before They Go Missing,’ came from a place of anxiety for me. I have a 16-year-old daughter, and I work with brown and Black girls. I want the world to change, for them,” Velasquez, 32, said. “Oftentimes, our youth of color are ignored, treated as missing even before they go missing. I hope this poem allows us to reflect on how we are or are not showing up for our women and girls of color. I hope it opens our eyes to how we perpetuate society’s stereotypes against them. Most of all, I hope it inspires us to show them how bright they shine and for that reason they are always deserving of light.”

For her, community art is essential when mainstream media ignores its afflictions and misrepresents its stories.

“When a Black or brown girl goes missing, immediate reactions look to place blame on the victim,” she said. “Oftentimes, as in Maylin’s case, the victim’s mental status is brought into question, as if having a mental illness justifies a less thorough investigation. I would demand timely, fair and accurate reporting and dissemination of information regarding our missing black and brown girls that does not divulge criminal, sexual, mental or medical history of the victim.”

That’s why she believes it’s necessary for communities of color to use their collective voices, platforms and art to bring attention to the underrepresented.

PLUS: Feminist Skate Crew 'Brujas' Honor Deceased Dominican Sister Maylin Reynoso

“When mainstream media fails us they will have no choice but to hear our voices,” she said.

Read Velasquez’s powerful poem below.

To The Black and Brown Girls Who Go Missing Before They Go Missing

Maybe it was because of the last time
you ran away with the boy
                                                who looked like God.
 
Maybe it was because of the way
you came back three days later
                                                like you were God.
 
Maybe they expected you
to resurrect like this, again,
 
like you have always been a dead girl,
wanting to rise,
                                                glory and miracle.
 
Like you just wanted your loved ones
to gather around you
                                                so you made a funeral of your body.
 
Maybe they did not search for you
because you being gone
 
was not enough evidence
that you were indeed missing.
 
You so loud, the police are sure
your family will find you.
                                                Crying wolf. Crying rape. Crying.
You so loud
that when you are silent,
 
they point your parents in the direction
of your echo and say look,
                                                a cave in love with her own darkness.
 
When the media does not report the news
of your disappearance, you are not a girl worthy of a torch.
 
You, girl with bonfire hair, do not get to be illuminated.
Do not get to smile for the sake of being happy.
 
You have a prison grin. They say, it’s your mouth that keeps you captive.
You talk crazy before you talk freedom. It is no wonder you are missing.
 
Look, how your whole life is condensed to height, weight, eye color, tattoos, piercings.
                                                You, get to be an art gallery on a light pole.
 
You, do not get to be someone’s favorite song.
You, get to be broken record.
 
You, do not get an amber Alert if your name is not Amber.
You, a name too hard to pronounce, must mean you difficult too.
 
Must mean you not worthy of a chorus to sing you into a prayer.
Must make you a melody we forgot the words too, a quiet hum.
 
A flash mob with no mob and no flash.
You, a dance too hard to memorize.
 
When they stumble upon your lifeless body in a lake,
they point out every other time in your life you’ve drowned.
 
Medical records will float to the surface before your body does:
Depression, Bi-Polar.
 
They will say you did this to yourself.
 
Girls like you are always found submerged in a body of water.
Always baptized, never saved.
 

For more of Velasquez’s work, visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Instagram.