Black Lives Matter...What about the Missing? #FindOurGirls
By: Tahirah Wiley
As of April 1st, 2017 34 Missing Girls in the Washington D.C. Area alone
#FindOurGirls- One of the current and viral hashtags amongst social media users. Recently, there have been several stories in regards to African American and Latina teenage girls that have gone missing this year. These stories have been the platform of information to keep up with the stories of the missing children in the Washington, DC area. As America watched these disheartening numbers seem to increase within social media many questions surfaced.
Many celebrities spoke out against the injustices with issues in America that associate with people of color, case, and point. Within days of the nationwide attention, more of the teenagers seemed to be found unharmed and immediately labeled “runaways”. Bernice King took to Twitter and stated “Sex trafficking/slavery is pervasive in the U.S. and world. Don’t label our #MissingDCgirls as runaways and not search. #FindOurGirls”.
Despite the social media frenzy enforcing the finding of 14 teenagers missing within a 24 hour period, it has been found to be pieces of what is referred to as “fake news”. D.C. Police stated there actually is not an increase in missing children of color nor are there 14 teenagers missing within 24 hours. However, there were still 22 open cases involving missing teens in Washington, D.C. as of March 22, and 13 open cases as of March 27.
Members of Congress are calling on the FBI to investigate a large number of Black and Latino missing children in our nation’s capital. 95 percent of the children who have gone missing in 2017 has been located. According to the Associated Press, over 500 D.C. children went missing in the first three months of 2017. Police spokeswoman Rachel Reid stated there hasn't necessarily been an increase in missing persons in the district. Instead, the public is simply noticing more because the police department is posting missing girls' photos on social media. These missing children aren’t all of sudden missing but simply having light shed upon it.
So this raises the question: Is the media being used for the families and children for children of color fairly? When the proportions of race and gender from the news coverage of five national television stations between 2005 and 2007 were compared to official missing children statistics, it was found that African American missing children and female missing children were significantly underrepresented in television news coverage. It is argued that such things as newsroom diversity, news operation routines, media ownership, and commercial motives of media contribute to the create bias.
Jesse Lee Peterson, of WND, wrote an article aptly titled “The Ugly Truth Behind Missing D.C. Black Girls.” Peterson brought another aspect looming behind the reasoning of numerous disappearances. A very uncomfortable, realistic, and simply sad truth within the lives of the children we are pushing to find.
Peterson stated “Newsflash: These young people don’t want to be reunited with their mothers. They ran away from home to escape unbearable living conditions. Angry, single, black mothers (and grandmothers) who don’t have any love are raising these kids. These women are often belligerent and violent toward the children. The kids are usually living in homes where the mother has a live-in boyfriend. Illicit drugs are prevalent. Sometimes the girls are made to work as prostitutes in sex-trafficking rings – even by members of their own families.”
The fact remains the missing children issue runs not only in DC but through all U.S. in cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta. Is this the reason for the missing children of color in these Urban areas across the country?
More importantly, with all the information on the table what do we do with it? Is it fair to assume each child is a runaway and hope they are better off? Do we take to the streets and find them regardless? The truth is that it’s up to each individual to access their own choices and figure out what part they want to play in our community.
There are a few ways to assist if you choose to keep up and assist with the missing children. Black and Missing Foundation is one of the groups actively assisting in finding the missing children. You can also follow the Metropolitan Police Department, in your city, on Twitter for updates.
For More Information, updated lists and how you can Be of Assistance:
Washington DC Metropolitan Police Tip Line
Text Tips to: 50411