Missing Black People…does the media care?

Although all of the women missing can’t be attributed to foul play, the lack of media exposure when discussing disappearances of black and brown people is shameful. It was the late great journalist Gwen Ifill who first coined the phrase ‘missing white women syndrome.’ Simply put, it is a term ‘coined by social scientists to describe the extensive media coverage, especially in television, of missing person cases that involve young, white, upper-middle class women or girls. Sociologists define the phenomenon as an undue focus on young, white women who disappear, with the disproportionate degree of media coverage they receive being compared to cases concerning missing women of other ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, or with missing males.’

When we look at the overall picture of the missing, black people account for nearly 40 percent, while only making up 13 percent of the total population. The media coverage on the missing, however, is quite the opposite. The press is 4 times more likely to report when a white person goes missing vs. someone who is black or brown. These numbers are even more dire when the missing is a black woman. It is easy to name the stories of Natalie Holloway, Elizabeth Smart, Jon Benet Ramsey and countless other white women and girls who went missing taking over international headlines, causing white communities to assemble search teams and raise money as they looked for their loved ones. Yet the missing black and brown women seemingly get lost as a quick segment on the local news with few gathering for community vigils. Sadly, their stories quickly become yesterday’s tragedy….[and] the way that media chooses to handle missing persons cases dealing with minorities directly correlates with the way that police investigate them.” – TheGrio

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