My daughter was born in Boulder, Colorado the year that JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in her Boulder home. I will never forget the energy in Colorado surrounding her mysterious death. It was almost palatable. News outlets were descending on Boulder with wide-eyed reporters and armchair detectives attempting to break the case. It was the perfect scene for the media. A wealthy White family with a missing child in a picturesque college town. JonBenet was a competitor in beauty pageants and the media made sure we would never forget this fact. Pictures and videos of this young girl with Goldilocks hair and couture miniature evening gowns filled the airwaves, newspapers, and magazines. Lifetime made a movie about JonBenet and just last year CBS did a two part docu-series. Even over 20 years later Netflix is set to release a documentary entitled Casting JonBenet April 28 of this year.
America seems as if it is enraptured when a person is missing. As it should be. Indeed we should demand the world pays attention when someone preys on, kidnaps and murders someone. However, it appears America only has selective outrage and concern, when it is a White woman that is missing.
For days and months sometimes even years we were inundated with images of White women that have been kidnapped and some subsequently murdered. The names Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, Chandra Levy and Elizabeth Smart have become household names. Their stories were shown daily, we met their families through interviews, their stories were made into movies and their images became emblazoned into the American conscience.
However the names of Anjel Burel, Relisha Rudd, Dashann Wallace are unknown.
I suggest that you, White America are co-conspirators in their disappearances. Because you don’t care. You never cared. White America is the biggest perpetrator of Black girls coming up missing. You have set this lackadaisical attitude towards the safety and humanity of Black women into motion. You have laid the foundation. You have set the scene. You have designed and developed the environment to be one in which no one would care that Black women are missing. There will be no national TV coverage not when you own and control the information that is dispersed. Their disappearances will not make the rounds on magazine covers because it is believed that only pretty, blond women on a cover can sell magazines. The families of Black missing women will not be shown on Dateline NBC with strategic lighting and intriguing Breaking News intros. Because you don’t give a fuck. Let’s just be honest. Because you never saw Black women as human. You can’t wrap your mind around the knowledge that Black women are women. That Black women deserve the same outcry, support, and resources when they are missing. Where are our Amber Alerts? White America has essentially said, “Finding a jersey is more important that finding a Black girl that is missing.”
When the community hosted a town hall meeting, there was not one White face in the picture. This is just three months after White women stormed the streets of Washington DC to shout about justice, freedom, and equality for all women. However, your lack of standing with these Black families and standing in the gap for those missing speaks volumes.You continue to say you want to stand with all women however your actions show otherwise.You paint the picture and scribe a narrative of the strong, militant, loud and angry Black woman which lends itself to the underlying theme, that Black women do not need help, cannot be victims, do not need support, do not the world to pause when our candles lose their flames. That is only reserved for you.
No one cares when Black women are missing because Black women do not fit the stereotypical White damsel in distress that America is so in love with. White women are allowed the space for sympathy, compassion, and understanding. White women are allowed not to just play the victim but to be the victim, to be the martyr. Even when a White woman lies about being victimized by Black men, the world still grants her grace to be seen as innocent and demure. When Breana Talbott was found to be a liar and charged with a misdemeanor after falsely stating she was kidnapped and gang raped by 3 Black men, some media outlets chose to run her Facebook photo (first picture below) instead of her mugshot. Even in her lies, the media still wanted to paint her as innocent.
This is the White damsel in distress narrative that America supports because it has been the same story for years. We witnessed this with the narrative that White America clung to for decades about Emmett Till only to find out that his accuser Carolyn Bryant Donham falsified her story that led to his murder.Even writing this blog as I was doing my research and searching Black Women Missing, MSN News has posted that a White woman has gone missing in New Zealand right underneath the search for Black women in Washington DC. I wasn’t even searching for White women that were missing but internet algorithms made sure that I would be reminded that while I was searching for Black women, a White woman is missing in New Zealand.
When Black women disappear, if the media does focus on them, their disappearances will be couched in between their socioeconomic status, relationships and any baggage the victim may have and they are often labeled as troubled runaways. The media does everything within its power to make a Black victim the criminal, to make it somehow her fault that she has been kidnapped.
We as Black women are always told that we are too much of everything. Too loud, too strong, too there. And now this is yet another reminder that for some people, we are even too Black to be missing. But we see you, Black women and it our responsibility to see you even if the world doesn’t. We know how this is world is designed so we must work to be vigilant about finding our girls, bringing our girls back home. We must take on this responsibility because it is obvious until we care, no one will care. Post an article, tweet a missing person flyer, contact your legislators, city officials and law enforcement officials and ask them what is being done in your community as it pertains to Black women that are missing. Whatever you do, do not turn your head in the other direction. We have the power to rewrite this narrative. We have the power to make the safety and well-being of Black women a priority.
If you have any information concerning the disappearance of these Black women, please contact the anonymous tip line at 202-727-9099.