Last month, during a rally in Union Square, poet Aja Monet took the podium dressed entirely in black, looking somber and resolute like a woman in mourning. A banner fluttered in the wind behind her head as she gripped the microphone, a flag adorned by photographs of the black women and girls who have lost their lives to police violence over the years. “I am a woman carrying other women in my mouth,” she began, her voice forceful and clear. “Behold a sister, a daughter, a mother, dear friend.”
But as Monet reached the crescendo of her poem in which she calls out the names of the dead — Rekia Boyd, Tanisha Anderson, Yvette Smith, Aiyana Jones, Kayla Moore, Shelly Frey and countless others — that voice started to tremble and shake.