Sunday, May 11, 2008

Romona Moore's Mother Fights for Herself

It's a profoundly sad Mother's Day for Elle Carmichael, whose daughter, Romona Moore, is dead. She left for Burger King 5 years ago and instead was kidnapped, brutally tortured, killed and left under a van. The Village Voice covered her story about what it means to be young, black, and missing, and how her mother, Elle Carmichael, fought to find her.

I wish I could say that I am surprised that a young black woman can get kidnapped and that no one will notice, or that she could be seen by a visitor, and not reported, or that her mother could go to the cops, and they would not take her seriously. I am not.

Although Romona Moore was 21 when she was killed-- her story is a cautionary tale for teen girls of color, and for those who care about them. When white girls go missing, there are Amber Alerts and media frenzies. What happens when girls of color go missing? The Village Voice story is one of very few I've seen providing in depth coverage. The realities of life for girls of color, particular those in low income neighborhoods, is often drastically different from their white counterparts. When and how does girls programming take this into account? I'm interested in feedback from folks working with girls about how you handle the real differences between girls.

For more about girls and women who are black and missing
and for commentary, check out what about our daughters

And props to my own Mom, who instilled in me a sense of a social justice at a very early age. I know she'll be outraged about Romona.

Additional coverage: Elle Carmichael won the right to sue the NYPD

Check out the New York City Council briefing from 2004 on the NYPD's handling of missing person's cases which centers on Romona's case.

NY Times 2006 coverage notes Romona's case didn't draw the same media interest as Svetlana Aronov or Imette St. Guillen. It's worth noting that neither Svetala or Imette were under 21 (one of the criteria for missing persons cases as noted in the above Council briefing) but that the media covered their stories, leading to increased pressure to pursue their cases.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I grew up in the same neighborhood as Romona Moore. I ate at that Burger King, walked up and down her block. Maybe we even passed each other by on the street. We may even be related; I'm also the daughter of Guyanese immigrants. The only differences between us, besides me being alive while she is not, is I went away to college. At the time of her killing, I was fretting about exams, boyfriends, friendships. I guess I feel as though I let Romona down too. Because all these years later, after college, and now nearing the end of graduate school, I happened to come across an article about her on the web. -- Julia James