From “All the Home You’ve Got” by Edwidge Danticat
As an adult at family gatherings, at mine or other people’s homes, I would sit quietly and listen to story after story of female relatives who had been asked to go to private houses, prisons, police stations, wearing their prettiest dresses to “convince” the colonel, general, foot soldier, or militia man who’d arrested their father, brother, uncle, cousin, not to kill their men.
Sometimes the price of a loved one’s release was a young female relative’s virginity. But no one spoke about any of this until our female heroines had died.
Many of the women in my family covered up being abused with piousness. They wore white clothes and wrapped their hair with white scarves. They wore no jewelry or makeup. They prayed a lot. They tried to make themselves as white as the snow we had not yet seen, as white as light itself. They tried to become invisible.
The less of you was seen the better, my aunt Denise liked to say. But it was no guarantee of protection, even in the dark, even inside your own home.