Thousands of Black Women Missing in America: Why Aren’t We Talking About It?
It’s a story that repeats itself far too often. A Black woman goes missing, and there’s hardly a word spoken about it. The sad truth is that Black women are disproportionately affected by missing person cases in America. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, as of 2020, there were over 64,000 active missing person cases in the United States, and Black women accounted for over 30% of those cases. Despite this alarming statistic, there’s a lack of attention and urgency when it comes to finding and bringing these women home. So why aren’t we talking about it?
According to the National Crime Information Center, almost 100,000 of the 268,884 women reported missing in 2020 were Black, accounting for over 30% of those reported missing despite only comprising 15% of the female population in the United States. Additionally, a third of the almost 300,000 U.S. girls and women reported missing in 2020 were Black. This issue of erasure and lack of attention towards Black girls and women is a significant problem in the United States.
There is obviously a problem, but no one is willing to discuss the 10-ton elephant in the room. I have sounded the clarion on this issue for years, but it has mostly fallen on deaf ears. I believe that for our women to be valued, we must first value them ourselves.
The Intersection of Race and Gender
One reason for the lack of attention paid to missing Black women is the intersection of race and gender. Black women are often marginalized and overlooked, both as women and as Black individuals. When a white woman goes missing, her story is often amplified and shared across news outlets and social media platforms. On the other hand, when a Black woman goes missing, her story is often buried beneath other news and events, if it’s even reported at all. This is a result of systemic racism and sexism, which devalues the experiences and lives of Black women. Furthermore, Black women often face a lack of resources and support when they go missing. Law enforcement agencies may not take their cases seriously or prioritize them, and media outlets may not cover their stories. This lack of attention can make it even harder for families and loved ones to find and bring these women home.
The Impact of Stereotypes
Another reason for the lack of attention paid to missing Black women is the impact of stereotypes. Black women are often portrayed in the media as angry, hypersexualized, or aggressive. These harmful stereotypes can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding when Black women go missing. People may assume that a missing Black woman is simply “out there on her own” or that she’s run away from home. These assumptions can lead to a lack of urgency and resources devoted to finding her. Additionally, there’s a misconception that missing person cases only happen to people who are “in trouble” or who have done something wrong. This is simply not true. Anyone can go missing, and it’s important to treat every missing person’s case with the same level of attention and urgency. When we don’t, we perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to the erasure of Black women’s experiences.
What Can We Do About It?
So, what can we do to bring attention to the thousands of missing Black women in America? The first step is to acknowledge the problem and understand why it exists. We need to recognize the intersection of race and gender and the impact of harmful stereotypes. We also need to advocate for changes in the way missing person cases are handled, ensuring that every case receives the same level of attention and support. We can also support organizations that work to find and bring missing Black women home. The Black and Missing Foundation, for example, is a non-profit organization that raises awareness about missing persons of color and provides resources to families and law enforcement agencies. By supporting organizations like this, we can help ensure that missing Black women are not forgotten or overlooked. Finally, we can all do our part to amplify the stories of missing Black women. We can share their pictures and stories on social media, talk to our friends and family about the issue, and demand that media outlets cover these cases. By doing so, we can help bring attention to the thousands of Black women missing in America and work towards a future where every missing person receives the attention and resources they deserve.
The fact that there are thousands of Black women missing in America, and yet there’s hardly a word being spoken on the subject, is a tragedy. We need to acknowledge and address the intersection of race and gender, the impact of harmful stereotypes, and the lack of resources and support for missing Black women. By advocating for change, supporting organizations that work to find missing persons of color, and amplifying the stories of missing Black women, we can work towards a future where every person, regardless of race or gender, receives the attention and resources they deserve.