The World of the Missing: Why Don’t We Matter?

This is Daniel Robinson who went missing after leaving a work site in the desert in his Jeep Renegade on June 23. His father David Robinson has been looking for his son and has lost hope in the police. When we (People of Color) go missing we are not even a byline in the newspapers let alone a key story for the major news outlets. Why do People of Color not matter to you? As a mother twin 11 year old Black boys and a 14 year old Black girl these stories are the reason why they do not ride the school bus or go hang out with their little school associates with me. I take them where they need to go and if they want to go to the mall with “friends” that is fine, however, I am walking in and out of the stores with my kids. They are never out of my sight (unless it is school) and I pray over them for God to keep them safe and that no weapon formed against them will prosper.

I can totally understand why David Robinson has lost faith in the police (and probably mankind) because there was no effort for the Arizona police to go pull out all of their manpower to search for his son. Unlike in the cases of Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in Wyoming. While the world and I can sympathize with the Petito family in the loss of their child, but what about the children of color? They have families that miss them and want them found as well. This why David Robinson who lives in South Carolina had to hire a private investigator, assemble his own search party to look for his son Daniel. The media was alerted on July 9th. What sense does this make to you that the parents have to do ALL the work the police?

Still, Robinson said it’s “hurtful” to see a young White woman’s case met with more urgency and national attention than his son, who is Black. “You wish you lived in a world where everything was equal but it’s really not equal,” Robinson told CNN.

Robinson is 1 of thousands of parents of missing Black and Brown children who have gone missing and have to struggle to get the help they need to find their babies. We are tired of our missing family members cases turning into cold cases while the cases of white people go missing have headlines in all the papers and on every news outlet. White people who go missing draw out the likes Dog the Bounty Hunter, but our cases are treated as runaways and the police frankly do not care. For us to even be mentioned on the news we have to hold rallies, prayer vigils, launch our own probes while seeking the help of our community. Again, I ask you what sense does this make to you?

As a nation we are facing what some call the White Woman Syndrome  defined by the heavier media attention White women and girls receive when they go missing compared to anyone outside of those demographics, according to a study published by the Northwestern University School of Law in 2016. Zach Somers the author this studies said to CNN “As a culture we are readily willing to accept stories about White folks as victims as something we should care about,” he said. “When we see a White person who has gone missing, we say that could be my daughter, neighbor or cousin or friend… and they identify with that person and are more likely to read the story than we would if it were a person of color.”

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center’s list of active missing persons showed almost 90,000 active missing persons cases at the end of 2020. Of those cases, Black and Native American people made up a larger share of missing persons than their total share of the US population. (I tried to upload the graph, but none of the information showed on my blog) therefore, the numbers are truly alarming when you see it in black and white.

Share of 2020 active missing persons cases:

White – 54% (48,714 people) Share of US population – 76% (NCIC includes those that identify as Hispanic or Latino in the White category)

Black – 31% (28,203 people) US population – 13% The largest disparity is among Black people, who make up about one-third of active missing persons but only 13% of the US population.

Asian – 2% (2,035 people) Share of US population 6%

Native American – 2% (1,496 people) US population – 1%

Unknown – 10% (9,189 people)

Daniel’s car was found by a rancher 3 miles from his work site on July 19th with crash damage and clothes and belongings were found near by on. Daniel is described by his father as and outspoken geologist who loved the outside. Bob Sanders Buckeye police assistant chief tells CNN “We covered all our basis” that is simple code for Daniel most likely went off on his own and we are not going to use any resources to find him. Daniel is not important enough to us. Sanders will go on to say “department has followed up on every lead, interviewed co-workers, friends and relatives, and reviewed all evidence. As of Wednesday, no foul play is suspected in Daniel Robinson’s disappearance, Sanders said, but the investigation is ongoing. “Daniel is a member of our community and we are committed to finding him,” Sanders said. “We relate to him (David Robinson) as a father and we are trying to give him closure one way or the other.” Again, this police talk saying let’s move on from this and we hope that Daniel turns up, but if not oh well. No one can truly relate to David or any the parents I will talk about because we do not have a family that is missing. We do not have to put our own team together to do what the police will not do, because we are deemed not news worthy and important enough.

Meet Jelani Day who went missing 08/25/2021, a 25-year-old graduate student at Illinois State University whose mother said he aspired to become a speech pathologist, was reported missing on August 25 in Bloomington, Illinois. His body was found a month after he went missing and the LaSalle County coroners office identified his body by his dental records.

His mother Carmen Bolden Day has spoken out in recent days, pleading for answers and more help finding Jelani. “The Bloomington Police Department, I have been in frequent contact with them,” Day told HLN. “However, there has been no urgency. There has not been the drive to find Jelani.” I have read about this mother’s pleas through my Facebook feed and I have seen her television once compared to Gabby Petito who was every in the public media.

Meet Keeshae Jacobs who has been missing since September 26, 2016. Her mother Toni Jacobs has been looking for her baby for five years. At the time Keeshae was going to spend the night at a friends house, but she made it to her friends house. At the time of this article was written Keeshae would be 26 years old. I can not imaging the agony her mother is going through. As the mother of daughter I would be going crazy to find my baby. 14 months after Keeshae went missing the police said they suspected foul play. Toni said that when her baby went missing she was only a year younger than Gabby Petito when she went missing. Just like the previous mentioned missing people of color Keeshae did not receive the same amount of police resources or media attention. Keeshae’s mother asked a very important question of the FBI what makes her daughter’s case less important than the Petito (or any other white person that goes missing)? I do not expect that the FBI is going to answer Toni Jacobs or any of these parents of missing children of color.

This is why Derrica Wilson to launch Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. in 2008 to help raise awareness for missing people of color.  Wilson, a former law enforcement officer said ” too often police label missing Black people, including children, as runaways or suggest they were involved in criminal activity. And with most police agencies allocating minimal resources to missing persons units, people of color are more likely to fall through the cracks, Wilson said. Some of those same families have sought national and local news coverage to no avail.” Reading this just makes me a Woman of Color lose all hope in humanity, the penal system and the like because the old saying is that we have never matter to the society and that the legal system was not made for us.

Wilson said her organization is hoping to combat the issue — which she insists is the result of systemic racism — by sharing and promoting the stories of Black and brown families with missing loved ones through the media. “We look at it and we say ‘why not us?'” Wilson said. “Our families, our communities are desperate to find their missing loved ones and sadly their cases are just not taken seriously.” Earlier this year, Minnesota’s state legislature passed a bill authored by State Rep. Ruth Richardson that would create a Missing and Murdered African American Women and Girls Taskforce. Make it make sense that EVERY state does not have something like this in play and on the books already?

To my readers I do not want to you to get the wrong idea about this post. I do not want to see any family go through something like this. To have your baby go missing is hard enough, but to have the remains (lack of remains) found is not only gut wrenching, but your world comes to a complete end. That is your baby! I wanted to write this because when your are a person of color and you go missing – the police do not take our missing babies seriously. The police tell their parents that they are runaways an they will turn up in a day or two. It is bad enough the parents of these missing babies have to wait 72 hours to report them missing, but to be dismissed by the police is just too much to handle in this state of mind. What we tend to see is when Black women and girls go missing, they are much more likely to be identified as runaways and then you don’t get the same level of law enforcement engagement, support and you don’t get Amber Alerts,” Richardson said. “So there are lots of things within our systems that have been set up in ways that are really failing these families and these Black women and girls when they go missing there are no Amber alerts. Again, why are we not important enough to you? Why do our lives not matter to you? We are people, too. We have feelings, hopes and dreams just like you and we deserve to live our lives just like you.

Ellis, N. (2021) CNN. These families of missing Black people are frustrated with the lack of response to their cases.

If you have any information these missing people please contact the local police or call the police tip line.

Thank you for reading my post.

XOXO

Jade

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.