For the past few weeks, there has been a growing attention to the fact that so many young Black girls have gone missing, especially in the D.C. area. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman said, “In 2014, the Black and Missing Foundation reported that 64,000 Black women and girls were missing nationwide.” According to the FBI, in 2016, about 36.7% of missing children aged 17 and under were Black as opposed to 56.7% white. In comparison to the national population of each group, this is terrifying. D.C. is currently working with the FBI for possible ties to human trafficking. Many children are being dismissed as runaways despite having no evidence. This is crucial because the first 3 hours a child is missing is very important in finding them safe. For adults, the first 48 hours are critical for the same reason.
For one second, could you imagine if something of this magnitude happened to little white girls in such a short period? It would consume national news, multiple investigations and more until answers were found. This is not an accident. The blatant lack of media attention just continues the narrative that Black girls are expendable. Black girls are being targeted because they are vulnerable, not just in American society, but the anti-black global society that devalues Black life. The outrage can’t die down until they are found.
This tragedy just emphasizes what we’ve already known- if we want to keep our children safe, we have to do it ourselves. This is a slogan for the Black and Missing Foundation: “Help Us Find Us,” not just for children but for all Black people. The lack of media coverage until recently is revolting. This is extremely personal to me not only because I am a Black girl, but because when children are being preyed on it should be personal to us all. These are our sisters, cousins, neighbors, all being taken from us and not many people outside the Black community are speaking about it.
There’s a short film on missing black girls called Muted. In the film, the Gladwells’ daughter goes missing and neither the law enforcement nor the media are helpful in the fight to get her back. It is from 2014, but with current events it has been revived. In 2014, it won HBO’s Short Film Award at the Black Film Festival. It is fictional, but it draws upon experiences that seem to be common when Black people go missing. Emmy award-nominated actress Chandra Wilson and actor Malcolm Jamal Warner are the main characters as the parents of the girl who goes missing.
Help protect our sisters. Don’t let young girls go out alone. Check up on your friends when they go out at night. Don’t answer ads for jobs unless they are from reliable sources. Try taking a self-defense class, and keep up with videos that show how to escape from cars, zip ties and other kidnap situations. We got us. I only wish the rest of the world would catch up.