Let’s have a moment of silence for all of the missing women across the globe. It’s truly devastating. But it’s even more devastating to continuously see how BIPOC women are overlooked in the national search for their lives. Recent news has highlighted details of the missing woman known as Gabby Petito. Every channel, news platform and blog has reported the ongoing facts and updates of her well-being. Although every life is valuable, why aren’t BIPOC lives? Who’s looking for us?
Studies have shown that missing person cases for BIPOC women are less likely to be solved. Oftentimes women or children of color are classified as runaways which lessens their chances of being found as well. African American cases continuously remain open and unsolved four times longer than those of Hispanic or White women. This is unimaginable. This is wrong. This isn’t fair or equitable.
We often see multiple media outlets aiding in these statistics due to their lack of coverage for all missing women. It’s already bad enough that women fight each day to be seen, heard and to grow within many male dominated spaces. But to go missing against your own will and to not adequately have anyone search for or publicize your story is disheartening. In 2014 the #BringBackOurGirls viral campaign was led in response to nearly 300 missing girls in Nigeria.That campaign alone brought global awareness to the efforts of missing BIPOC women everywhere.
In 2017 the campaign was relaunched in the Washington, DC region to highlight missing women of color in the DMV. CNN ran stories in 2019 to sound the alarm against the growing number of missing women of color globally and about the lack of media coverage. But did it change anything? No! So what can we do about this? While many may argue various manners needed to change this narrative, here are some of my quick tips:
- It starts with you. If you’re a storyteller or content curator, you can change this dynamic by giving it media coverage. From blog writing, interviews and beyond; you can take that step individually.
- Donate to the cause. No amount is too small to support the efforts of finding our women of color in distress. Look at your budget and see what you can give.
- Educate your families and networks. It may sound cliche but speak with your loved ones about sharing their whereabouts, never going out at night alone, discussing potential relationship red flags in case the partner gets violent and more. It literally starts at home.
- Use your networks. We’re all on social media and we’re probably using it daily. It’s free-ninety nine to share a social media post, sign a petition or etc. These small efforts go a long way.
It takes a village and we need one another to decrease these statistics. If we aren’t looking for us, neither will they. Connect with the Black and Missing Foundation organization online as @blackandmissingfdn and find available resources here: https://blackandmissinginc.com/resources/.