In a world where what you are brings certain advantages that some others don’t have based on the society they live in, people want to point out the unfairness that comes with it. In many cases, we bring up ‘what if’ questions if it happened to the ones not so ‘privileged’ to point out double standard bullshit, and it will continue until changes are made that brings the same about of respect and dignity to everyone and not just a select few.
The uproar over reports of numerous missing black and brown girls in Washington D.C. is one of those cases where we point out that if they were white girls from middle and upper class neighborhoods, the media and criminal justice system would be in a frenzy telling the country to give several damns, develop feelings over the crisis and help find them. But it takes a considerable effort to make the same media and criminal ‘justice’ system so much as take a hint that girls of color are going missing to make them realize that their lives are worth something too. That’s the problem!
Yesha Callahan of The Root describes how her past article about the issue picked up steam:
On March 12, 2017, I wrote about the number of black and Latino teens who have gone missing in the Washington, D.C., area since February. At the time, 10 teens, including one young man, were missing. The Metropolitan (D.C.) Police Department reported that a few had been found, but there were still missing cases open.
Before I wrote that initial article, the only mention of these missing teens had come in a couple of tweets from individuals expressing their concerns, as well as tweets from the Metropolitan Police Department. After the article caught the department’s attention, the MPD noted that sometimes it fails to update its social accounts with information about teens who have been located.
Within two days, other websites, like Teen Vogue (which directly quoted my article and used a similar headline), wrote about the missing teens, too.
On Wednesday, there was a town hall meeting held in D.C. in response to the missing girls. The room was filled with black men and women who wanted answers. But of course, even in a city noted for its rising gentrification, there was not one white face in the crowd.
I’m not surprised by that last statement. Expecting white people to care is like expecting to see actual proof of the Loch Ness Monster’s existence. And making some of them care can be as painful as a root canal without anesthetics. But the main thing is that we care. And many of us do as missing children of color being ignored that been an issue for years not restricted in the D.C. area.
Shaun King of the New York Daily News weighs in:
The stories of young black girls and women who are missing don’t get the Elizabeth Smart or Natalee Holloway treatment. We don’t see primetime television specials on them. Their images don’t become permanent fixtures on Twitter. Their names don’t get hashtags or trending topics. Nationwide manhunts or search parties don’t ensue. Crying black parents, pleading for their children to be found, don’t interrupt our sitcoms as breaking news.
It appears that having blonde hair and blue eyes, and having white parents in suburban America, makes it far more likely that a story of a missing young girl will be told.
He’s not wrong. The Western news media has what’s known as the Missing White Girl Syndrome, which is a name coined by social scientists to label the mainstream media’s extensive coverage focusing on the disappearances of white middle and upper class women. I don’t think there’s a need to reiterate what would happen if even one white girl from richer suburbs vanishes. The news and law officials expect everyone to be emotionally charged and help locate her. But in this case, hundreds and thousands of black and brown girls from poorer neighborhoods are missing across this nation, almost two dozen from D.C. alone in recent days. And America seemed not to be slightly worried until concerned people started talking and screaming for answers and, more importantly, for their safe return. If all of us are expected to feel and pray for the whereabouts of missing white women, then those same people telling us to do so should have the same feelings for missing women of color.
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