The power of social media was proven yet again as one post by Danielle Moodie-Mills, retweeted 41,000 times, claimed that 14 black girls went missing in the DC area in less than 24 hours. The Washington DC police department is facing major criticism about their failure to find the girls. All of the missing teenagers happen to be of black and ethnic minority backgrounds. Many rappers such as Meek Mill, T.I. and Nicki Minaj have alluded to the fact that the response by mainstream media would have been a lot a lot different if the victims were of a white middle-class background.
Although it came to light that the original poster was not accurate, the real data proves that the reality is still just as grave as 10 teenagers have been reported as missing since 19th of March. The Washington DC Police department have stated that these numbers are ‘normal,’ and point to the decrease of the number of missing persons recently as if this is an achievement. The department claim that social media has only shed more light onto the issue but does not correlate with the current reality.
However, technicalities aside, these numbers are staggering. Information from the National Crime Information Center showed there were 170,899 missing black children under 18 in the United States, more than any other category except for the white/Hispanic combined number of 264,443. Both numbers increased from the year before, which saw 169,655 missing black children and 262,177 missing white/Hispanic children. These missing children are vulnerable to terrible crimes such as human trafficking which is a $32 billion industry. It’s worrying how Black and Ethnic minority children can go missing at such alarming rate without the outcry and attention of the mainstream media – it shows again how selective the liberal media can be with who and who they do not sympathise with. What has happened to all these missing girls? We can only fear the worst. But there is an undeniable trend connecting these missing girls together that should be investigated by the Washington DC police department thoroughly.
Not only is it saddening that it has taken Twitter and Facebook to highlight the gravity of this issue, it is evident to me that because these girls come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds their cases are not prioritised by media outlets across the States which could raise awareness of the problem. The slow response is reminiscent to that of Hurricane Katrina or the 2016 Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan. Whenever an issue affects a predominantly black area, the reaction is significantly slower.
To any black and ethnic minority readers reading this story, this crisis emphasises that unfortunately, we may not have come as far in society as we think. I feel that there is a lack of empathy still towards the plight of black and ethnic minorities in the West. I implore you to ask this question: if these girls were white, would there be more media coverage and swiftness to solve these cases? Unfortunately, black and ethnic minorities still must fight harder for the same rights as white counterparts. Throughout history, people of colour have been branded as inhuman, even animalistic, though we all would have hoped that we have escaped the racist narrative and ideology of the past. It is undeniable that these thoughts have trickled down into the mentality of people today and it manifests itself in our different responses to tragedy such as abduction. Ultimately, though we may not realise, colour is still an important factor in how particular groups are treated.
What has been fantastic to witness is Hip Hop’s defiant response to the crisis. Rapper Meek Mill posted a rant on his Instagram questioning how NFL player Tom Brady’s missing jersey garnered more media attention than living people. He was also a generous donator to the Flint Water Crisis movement. Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill’s ex - girlfriend, posted a video about the situation with the caption: #FindOurGirls. Actress Eva Marceille also spoke out and legendary Hip Hop radio DJ Sway had a candid conversation about the issue which you can watch below. With Hip Hop being a beacon for the unheard voices of the generation, it is refreshing to see Hip Hop artists take a stance and use their platform to shine light on the situation and hopefully make a difference.
We wish all these young girls could be returned safely home to their families. However, the truth is they may never come home. It is our duty to ensure that we rectify the errors of the past, and the main way to do that is for all people, white, black, orange and green to recognise that there are still racial issues and racial biases. Just because the coloured signs were removed from water fountains, does not been that racial bias and privilege do not exist. Let’s not allow race to be a factor for why we care more about the plight of some people compared to others in the face of any crisis.
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