Recently, there has been an outrage in regards to the missing girls in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital. Girls ranging anywhere from twelve to adult age have disappeared, with 501 cases being reported in 2017 alone, according to CNN. Often depicted as ‘runaways,’ this crisis has left families, communities, and entire cities heartbroken. Unfortunately, there has been little to no coverage of what is happening not only in Washington D.C. but across the country.
In July 2014, it was reported that 64,000 black women and girls were missing in the United States. This is a major issue in the Black community, one that (like most Black issues) will never get its due coverage. The coverage that it has received recently is not only insufficient, but veiled with a smug bias that reduces these girls and women to ‘runaways.’ The tone is often one that could make a reader think “Hey, maybe they deserved it.”
I personally look at the pictures of the girls, with their wide eyed smiles, and wonder if they are alive. I see so much joy and life in these pictures and dread thinking that they will never have the ability to smile so glowingly again. My mind takes me to the what-ifs of it all, and none of it is positive. I never see runaways, but girls that are away from where they should be–home.
Another part of me burns in fury, thinking that something so precious as a young Black life could be dehumanized, characterized as nothing more than a runaway. I imagine what they could be doing if they were home, yet journalists from major news outlets believe they should have never left home to begin with. I envision the joy their parents, friends, and communities have when they see the faces of these babies, and how it could be stripped away forever. I fear for our babies, our little Black boys and girls. I fear for us.
While flames of anger burn in one part of my spirit, a larger part remains hopeful. “They’ll come home,” I say to myself, “They’ll be found.” I don’t trust a world that often sees us as less human to do it. I see us making it happen through spreading awareness, reporting any sightings, and standing up for these girls, who are our future. I see us finding these girls, providing the support spiritually and mentally that they may need, and attempting to restore the smiles that we see in the missing persons photos. It may come off as lofty, yes, but this world is showing Black people that, unfortunately, no one will care for us. We must look inward–in our communities, yes, but also within ourselves. The worst thing we can do, as a community, is be passive as our children go missing from city to city. The second worst thing we can do is dehumanize these babies, seeing them as numbers only or calling them runaways. These are not only children; these are our children.
For more information on Washington, D.C.’s open missing persons cases, click here