I put down your thirty-four page document, excited and enraged, and called my mother. I was talking fast, unconcerned with what type of sense I was making. Anarcha's story is not a linear narrative. It curves, winds around and encircles all of us. The power in this covering, however, is that it can either smother us and take our breath away, or protect us and set us free. My mother, I think, could only hear the fistula and the violation and only smell the stink of shame. She had no words to form a question, to inquire what it all meant. She already knew. And, the burden of this knowledge is silence for many black women. I imagine her stomach muscles and the walls of her vagina automatically tensing as mine did at the suggestion of Anarcha's pain. The unspeakable was already verbalized deep within both of our bodies from birth. This unspeakable shame, this mark of race and sex, informs the way we walk, hold our heads and hide or show ourselves to the world.

- Aimee Meredith Cox