Monday, May 13, 2013

Black and Missing

In the year 2012, 265,000 African-Americans were reported missing in the United States. This is roughly the entire population of Buffalo, New York. Imagine the catastrophic ramifications of an entire  city suddenly disappearing. Then, imagine the pain and anguish of the 265,000 families of those who are missing, knowing that they may never see their loved ones again, in many cases because the system has failed them.
Clifford Hampton Ellis
Missing Since: May 06, 2013
Age Now: 33
Silver Spring, MD

Taylor Robinson
Missing Since: May 03, 2013
Age Now: 19
Akron, OH

There is a considerable disparity between critical media coverage of white missing persons versus for Black ones.

Ava Greenwell, a journalism professor at Northwestern University and former television reporter agrees that coverage of minority missing persons is limited.

“Well, the first thing I would say is you have to look at who the managers are and who is determining coverage and it tends to be people who are not people of color,” Greenwell said. “Who are the managers and how do their backgrounds affect their interests?”

The disparity in missing Black people getting coverage is due to a lack of minority ownership of media outlets. The lack of coverage does not seem to be intentional, but more a reflection of ethnic and racial groups having a “natural affinity for their own group.”

I am not sure if I concur with Greenwell's assessment. Although it is natural to have an affinity for ones own kind. There are some things that we all have a common, families who love us, and lives that matter. There is no great profundity in the reasons why every single missing persons case in this country deserves equal attention. This is a curtesy that should be allowed simply because we are all members if the human race. 

“Missing White Woman Syndrome”

“Missing white woman syndrome” is an expression used by some media and social critics to describe the disproportionate degree of coverage in television, radio, newspaper and magazine reporting of an adversity, most often a missing person case, involving a young, white, upper-middle class (frequently blonde) woman or girl. This degree of coverage is usually contrasted with cases concerning a missing male, or missing females of other ethnicities, socioeconomic classes or physical attractiveness.

Cited instances of the missing white woman syndrome include the cases of Natalee Holloway and Laci Peterson.To change the way media covers missing persons of color, Greenwell says that first changes must be made in media management

“First we have to get more people of color in those management positions so they that can make those decisions, “ she said. “Again by saying that I’m assuming that those people of color are going to be sensitive to these issues. Sometimes you can get people of color into those positions and nothing changes for various reasons. It could be for fear of offending their viewers, it could be for fear of if they do something different than what their white predecessors have done that they will be penalized for that.”

People become missing for a variety of reasons. Some minors are abducted by non-custodial parents who decide to take custody of illegally. While others are abducted and sold into sexual slavery in sex trafficking rings, which is a big issue in the United States. There are also kids that are running away as well and there are some people who are missing for unknown reasons.

Overall, here’s what the public should remember. Police say that the first 24 to 48 hours of a person’s disappearance are the most critical and every hour after that decreases the chances of a positive outcome. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cites a statistic from the 2006 study, Case Management for Missing Children Homicide: Report II, which indicates that 76.2 percent of abducted children are killed within the first three hours of being taken. 

This is perhaps the saddest statistic that I have ever read.


Joanna Stella Delvalle-Rodriguez 

Missing Since: Jul 21, 2012

Location Last Seen: Joanna Delvalle left her mother's District home near Takoma Park on July 21, 2012, when she was 14 years old. She has not returned to her family.

Circumstances of Disappearance: Shortly before Joanna went missing, the teen's family had moved to the D.C. area from New York City. Joanna was upset about relocating and may have returned to the Big Apple. She could be in the Bronx or Queens, but it is also possible that she is still in the District. Although Joanna voluntarily left home, authorities are still concerned about her well-being.

Missing Since: Apr 25, 2002
Circumstances of Disappearance: Jahi's stepfather, Tieray Jones, who was 23 years old at the time, told police he was in the park at 28th and Cedar streets with the toddler when he left to get a drink at a soda machine nearby. Jones maintains Jahi was playing with other children who were being watched by a woman and that when he returned about 15 minutes later everyone was gone. Jahi's mother Tameka Jones was a sailor in the US Navy and was deployed aboard the U.S.S. Rushmore.

If you have any information in reference to any of the individuals pictured above please contact: 

Black and Missing Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 2431
Landover Hills, MD 20784-9431
1 (877) 97-BAMFI (1-877-972-2634)


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