When I was a child (like any child) one of my favorite pastimes was going to the store with my mom. It did not matter what kind of store we were going to Shoprite, JCPenny, Burlington, Michaels, even Wawa. They all were an opportunity to go out and an opportunity to hopefully try and get something. The biggest thing though I will never forget from those trips is when we got to the store or if fell too much behind her, she would make sure we knew getting “snatched” was not an ideal option for us.
She would remind me:
“Listen, Cheyenne you need to keep up you are Black and Nancy Grace will not be telling your story tonight on the news your name is not Amber so c’mon.”
As a child I would roll my eyes and walk, but you know as I got older that phrase always stuck with me. “Nancy Grace will not be telling your story” but doesn’t she talk about everything? Doesn’t she specifically talk about kids? As a 24 year old young and proud Black Woman living in Atlanta I realize now exactly what she was talking about.
I find it sad that, I would have never made the 6 o’clock news yet Black kids go missing at a higher rate than their white counterparts. Surprising? I think not. Slavery has given our society this preconceived idea that Black lives can be sold and tossed when not needed. This mentality although maybe subconscious (in some...not all) is still a mindset that continuously puts Black lives in danger.
According to the graphic below “about 14% of US children are black, but black kids account for more than a third of missing child cases.” This statistic is 424,066 missing children under 18 in 2018.
I stumbled upon an article from CNN and came across the words of Robert Lowery who is the Vice President of the missing child division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
"I think there's a false belief that white children make up the biggest number of missing children when in fact (proportionally) it's just the opposite," Lowery said, adding that the high number of black girls reported missing is particularly concerning.
“The high number of black girls reported missing is particularly concerning.''
Pause. Stop. Rewind. PLAY! “The high number of black girls reported missing is particularly concerning.”
Not to throw shade at our media and justice system (totally throwing shade) but I think we have taken this “Amber Alert” a little too literal. For those who are not familiar with the term “Missing White Woman Syndrome”, I suggest you take a look at it because it is real and because of it we suffer. Many times Black folks have to take justice into our own hands. We rally our own communities, to do what our justice department and government will not. We have to push for them to see our Black women and girls (children) as human and individuals who CAN and are being harmed.
What do I mean by this?
Many times when Black woman or girls go missing the first thought by law enforcement is not a kidnapping, instead Black folks are labeled as “runaways”. When someone is labeled as a runaway they are not given the same broadcasting attention because they do not fall into the category of an “Amber Alert”. The label of runaway is especially given to Black women and girls from urban areas that fall within the poverty line.
It is very obvious that our justice system and media makes it extremely difficult and in fact refuses to give Black women and girls the coverage they deserve.
I say this to say that it is time for ALL OF US to hold our system accountable especially us as women. As someone who believes in Women empowerment, I also believe we cannot promote safety and empowerment if only select people are at the table. This wave of cis-white feminism is toxic and harmful to numerous communities and Black women are suffering due to the lack of concern for our lives.
If you are enraged after reading this...GOOD! You should be, lives are being snatched and the cameras are turning away from our stories. So how can you help?
For the non-black folks reading stop overlooking this information to make yourself feel comfortable.
When you see posts or community news of Black Women and Girls missing share it the way you would national news. As mentioned before the media does not report are stories. So we have to take that into our own hands. Do not doubt us, just support us.
Support organizations (we especially need finances to help with this work) doing the work to make sure Black Women and Girls are safe! Here are some: Black and Missing Foundation , Black Women's Blueprint, and A Long Walk Home.
The time is now to make sure we as a community protect our Black Women and Girls and put pressure on our system to do the same. It is not enough to care, but we have to act. Lives are depending on it.