Cafe Steph
Can you think of any high profile cases of missing minorities? Why do you think these cases get so little attention?
March 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Missing People of Color Don't Make Headlines: What 2 Moms Are Doing About It

by April Daniels Hussar

Justice Page, Missing Since: Feb 18, 2013
Justice Page, Missing Since: Feb. 18, 2013
When you think of famous missing persons cases in America, what pops into your mind? If you’re like me, probably Natalee Holloway, Caylee Anthony, Laci Peterson, or Jaycee Dugard -- four people whose terrible stories all have different endings, but who share one thing in common: the color of their skin. But have you ever heard of Tamika Huston, a 24-year-old African American woman who disappeared from her apartment in 2004, or 14-year-old Justice Page (pictured here), missing from her home in Silver Spring, Maryland since mid-February of this year?

Probably not -- and that’s exactly what motivated Derrica and Natalie Wilson, two moms and sisters-in-law, to start the Black and Missing Foundation, a non-profit geared toward helping minority families find their missing loved ones.

The story on the inspiration behind the Wilson sisters' mission left me both frustrated and inspired -- what an eye-opening read! Derrica Wilson, who’s from the same town in South Carolina as Huston, was devastated to see how difficult it was for Huston’s family to get the media’s attention over their missing girl. "It was painful watching them struggle for any kind of media coverage -- local or national," Wilson said. "This could have been one of my family members." Heartbreaking.

A year later, Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, and you know the story -- we’re STILL talking about it. So, Wilson, a longtime cop who currently works as an investigator for a D.C. agency, teamed up with her sister-in-law Natalie Wilson, a PR expert, to launch the non-profit that has so far helped locate more than 113 missing people -- 71 of them alive.

How incredible is that? These are just two "regular" women, both of whom have their own families and full-time jobs. They donate their time, energy, and own money to making a difference in the world, helping to right a terrible injustice, and reuniting missing people with their families, or -- sadly but importantly, helping them find closure and answers. In a recent interview with Ebony.com, Derrica says that she and Natalie are "mothers first," and that she is often haunted by the stories they come into contact with, especially the missing children. 

Currently, Black and Missing Foundation has 2,000 open cases they’re working on. A drop in the bucket, but what a powerful drop. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Department of Justice, 2,000 children are reported missing in America EVERY SINGLE DAY. And the Wilson sisters’ foundation reports that of the 661,593 people reported missing last year, about 40 percent of those were minorities.

That’s a horrifying number of people, amounting to a whole lot of scared, heartbroken family members. Of course, every missing persons case can’t make headline news (unfortunately). But there’s something really wrong when the ONLY ones who do make the news are white.

I can’t even imagine the horror of my child going missing, or my sister, or anyone I love -- but how much more awful it would be if no one would pay attention to my plight, or help me, because my loss wasn't perceived to be as newsworthy. These women are my heroes.

Can you think of any high profile cases of missing minorities? Why do you think these cases get so little attention?

Replies

  • IhaveHisjoy
    March 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM

     Justice Page is fine.. she's home. I believe she was a runaway?

    I think you hear more about certain cases for many reasons..none of which are their race.

     

     

  • katy_kay08
    March 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    When It Comes to Crime, Black and Hispanic Victims Are Treated as Mere Numbers

    Most of the time, the media are more than happy to play up stories of minority victimhood.

    An axiom often attributed to Stalin says that a single death is a tragedy, but a million deaths are a statistic. The death of Morgan Harrington, an attractive young Virginia Tech student who disappeared after a 2009 Metallica concert in Charlottesville, is certainly a tragedy. Her body was found three months later; her killer remains at large. Recently, Metallica put together a public-service announcement to help the State Police and the FBI find the man who murdered her.

    The death of Yeardley Love, a UVa student killed in 2010 by her ex-boyfriend, George Huguely V, is tragic as well. And even for those who never knew them, the senseless, savage murder of Richmond’s Harvey family in 2006 is still horrific to contemplate. In 2006 Ricky Javon Gray and Ray Dandridge tied up Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their daughters, nine-year-old Stella and four-year-old Ruby, slashed their throats, and beat them with a hammer before setting their house on fire and running off.

    Most people in Central Virginia have at least a passing familiarity with the Harveys’ case. A plaque at Forest Hill Park honors their memory, a bridge there was named after them, and the Carytown Merchants Association created a memorial fund in their honor. The Harrington case still generates interest. People across the country also know about Love – from stories in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times, from CNN and Sports Illustrated, from ABC News and USA Today, and many other sources besides.

    Not many have heard about Amilkar Figeroa. The 26-year-old was shot and killed in South Richmond in 2009. A year later – the last time it got any coverage – the case remained unsolved. Ditto for Levon Alford andJomond Lightfoot, two other open-case homicide victims in Richmond. And Ashraf Alatiyat, who was killed during a robbery at the Come and Go Food Market he owned on Jeff Davis Highway. During the past five years Richmond alone has racked up 31 unsolved homicides of black men and women. When was the last time you saw one of them on TV?

    We hear a lot about the disparate treatment of minorities in the criminal-justice system. Young blacks are arrested for drug crimes 10 times more often than whites, even though five times more whites than blacks use drugs. But there is also widely disparate treatment of minorities in non-judicial realm as well.

    Remember Laci Peterson, who disappeared on Christmas Eve, 2002? Her case received saturation coverage in the U.S., and widespread coverage elsewhere. You could follow it in the Taipei Times if you cared to. By contrast, Evelyn Hernandez – like Peterson, very pregnant at the time of her disappearance – went missing seven months before Peterson did. Her torso was later found in the San Francisco Bay. The case got a few mentions here and there, but was largely ignored.

    This is not a new or original insight. There is even a name for the phenomenon: Missing White Woman Syndrome (MWWS). The Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts wrote about it last year, citing such famous cases as Elizabeth Smart, JonBenet Ramsey, Chandra Levy, and Natalee Holloway. So – in a broader sense – did Keith Alexander, a court reporter for The Washington Post.

    Last summer a jury acquitted Casey Anthony of murdering her daughter, Caylee, in 2008. You remember. Her trial received seemingly nonstop attention across the nation. But as Alexander points out, just about nobody has ever heard of Aja Fogle, N’Kiah Fogle, Tatianna Jacks, or Brittany Jacks. Like Caylee Anthony, those girls – ages 5, 6, 11, and 16 – were murdered in 2008. Their mother was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 120 years in prison.

    According to Pitts, the number of men and boys who disappear each year is in the six figures. None of them, ever, gets the sort of attention pretty young white women do.

    You could chalk this up to evolutionary psychology. From a DNA-propagation standpoint, young females are extremely valuable to the perpetuation of the species. (Males are more expendable: If you want to repopulate an island, it makes much more sense to have 10 women of childbearing age and one man than the other way around.) So humans probably have developed a protective instinct that manifests itself as a sort of tribal concern. (Hey, it’s only a theory.) But that does not explain the racial dichotomy. Except, perhaps, that it might – if there is an unconscious assumption that white reproduction is more valuable than black reproduction.

    And why do the media cater to this instinct, if it even exists? That seems curious in light of their general genuflection to the cause of political correctness.  Most of the time, the media are more than happy to play up stories of minority victimhood. Why deviate from that practice in this instance – where the unfair treatment of minorities seems so patently beyond dispute? You could blame consumer demand, except that the press often delights in “eat-your-broccoli” stories published in order to raise the conscience of the proletariat.

    Whatever the reasons are, there is no excuse. Americans like to say we are all equal, we all have the same intrinsic moral worth. But priorities are revealed by actions, not by words. And by our actions, we indicate over and over that the death of one sort of person is a tragedy – while the death of somebody else is a statistic.

  • SuperChicken
    March 7, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I can.  The two little boys that were found in the trunk of a car, for example.

    However, I do agree that white children, especially blonde girls, are given more attention than other children when missing.  

  • GLWerth
    by GLWerth
    March 7, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Pretty blond white women sell in the media.

    The assumption is often made when minority women disappear that they are "thugs", were dating "thugs", or engaged in risky behavior and thus "deserve" it.

    Strangely, none of this is ever assumed about those pretty white women.

    Two little girls were killed in Iowa this year. It is right that their disappearance was in the news, but had they been not-white, there wouldn't have been any outcry outside of their own community. It's sad.

  • nelliesmommy
    March 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    I can't think of any. I'm not sure.

  • Mommy383
    March 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    There is definitely a difference. I have seen missing person stories regarding minority women and they almost never reach national news. Yet we all know about laci petterson, the holloway girl, etc. We had a woman disappear a few years ago, she was black. I dont think it was on any major network. Yet a white woman disaperared and the case was covered extensively.

  • Donna6503
    March 7, 2013 at 11:21 AM
    I think it comes down to a pretty smile.

    If the person (mostly a girl) has a pretty smile, that's when the media decides that it is news.

    No pretty smile ... No news
  • charleyd68
    March 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    I am so glad you brought this up! Currently there is a post asking why acts of "alleged reverse racism" gets little media coverage. Outrage for little media exposure. but not for the little boy who was a victim and then died!

    It remains to be see if the two boys that bullied the victim did it because of his race,or because he was viewed as a target. And I for one am sick of the insinuation that minorities control the media,or that we don't care if a non-minority is the victim, We are ALL GOD'S children!!!!.The "people"who point such things out are very obvious,IMO and the agenda is clear, when you point out BET,and neglect MTV your white sheets are showing. But just like your article states minorities missings don't grab head lines,most don't make it to the milk carton, and no one knows,so who is looking for them? I myself was dissuaded from putting out an amber alert when two of my Sons(two separate incidents)went missing,the police were more concerned about the paper work! I don't know why it happens,but I don't think any child that's missing should be ignored!

  • LIMom1105
    March 7, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    I think it's a combination of race and class.

  • motha2daDuchess
    March 7, 2013 at 11:45 AM
    Jhessy Shockley in Az is still "missing", her mother has been charged with her murder, but her body has yet to be recovered