Families of missing black and brown people disappointed by ‘Missing White Woman Syndrome’


Robinson, who lives in South Carolina, hired an independent investigator and assembled a volunteer search team when he said he felt the police were not making progress with the investigation. He also says that he failed to get the media coverage he believed the case needed. The matter was reported by the local media on July 9.

Still, Robinson said it is “sad” to receive the case of a young white woman with more urgency and national attention than her son, who is black.

“You wish you lived in a world where everything was equal but it’s not really equal,” Robinson told CNN.

Robinson is among black and brown families whose loved ones are missing and says they have struggled to get their cases the proper attention. Some say they are dismayed to see headlines hunt for missing white women like Petito, while police allow their cases to cool down or classify their loved one as a “runaway.”

The issue has for years inspired people of color to take matters into their own hands, hold rallies, launch independent investigations, and seek help from community advocates and lawmakers to bring their cases to the public eye.

Some experts say the country is facing “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” According to one study, missing white women and girls are defined by heavy media attention compared to someone outside those demographics. Published by Northwestern University School of Law in 2016. The study suggests that compared to other groups, missing black people are less likely to receive media attention early on and when they make the news and receive less intensity of coverage.

Zach Somers, a criminologist and author of the Northwestern study, told CNN that prejudice and systemic racism play a role in Missing White Woman Syndrome — a term he said was coined by the late TV news anchor Gwen Ifill.

“As a culture we are more willing to accept stories about white people as victims that we should be paying attention to,” he said. “When we see a white person who has gone missing, we say that she could be my daughter, a neighbor or a cousin or a friend … and they identify with that person and need to read the story. Chances are we were a person of color.”

And while cases of missing white women are given more attention and urgency, people of color are disappearing at disproportionate rates. According to 2020 FBI data, blacks account for 35% of reported missing persons, but only 13% of the US population. White people, meanwhile, make up 54% of missing persons reports and 76% of the US population.

A father has lost faith in the police

David Robinson, who described his son as an outspoken geologist who loves the outdoors and has a lot of friends, said he believed that if Daniel were White, the police would be able to find him. Had been working hard.

“It bothers me and it bothers me that my son’s disappearance is not important, it is not urgent and has not been given much attention,” he said. “I have lost faith in the Buckeye Police Department.”

Robinson said Daniels’ car was discovered by a rancher on July 19, about three miles from the workplace where he was last seen. The vehicle had crashed and a pile of his clothes and belongings was found nearby.

Buckeye’s assistant chief of police Bob Sanders told CNN that his officers “have covered all of our bases” in search of Daniel Robinson.

Sanders said the department has followed every lead, interviewed colleagues, friends and relatives, and reviewed all evidence. Sanders said that as of Wednesday, there is no suspicion of any foul play in the disappearance of Daniel Robinson, but the investigation is ongoing.

“Daniel is a member of our community and we are committed to finding him,” Sanders said. “We relate to him (David Robinson) as a father and we are trying to shut him down one way or another.”

‘I shouldn’t feel there is racial inequality’

Other black families say they are also angry about how the police have handled their cases. Some have gained more attention on social media in the light of Petito’s case.

Jelani Day, a 25-year-old graduate student at Illinois State University, was reported missing on August 25 in Bloomington, Illinois. According to CNN affiliate WLS-TV.
Jelani Day

His car was found in a wooded area about 60 miles north of Bloomington but Jelani is missing. His mother, Carmen Bolden Day, has sought answers in recent days and pleaded for more help in finding Jelani.

“Jelani is a sweetheart… I shouldn’t beg. I shouldn’t beg. I shouldn’t feel there is racial inequality, I shouldn’t feel anything like that, I want these people who have these resources , to feel that this could happen to them,” Day said, according to WLS-TV.

Mother’s plea to find daughter missing for almost 5 years

Tony Jacobs said that his daughter Keishe Jacobs has been missing since September 26, 2016, when she left the family’s apartment in Richmond, Virginia. Jacobs said Keisha, now 26, said she was going to spend the night with a friend, but never returned home the next day.

Jacobs said police initially suggested Keisha was ignoring her mother’s calls and was probably not missing. However, 14 months after Keisha went missing, police said they suspected dishonesty was a factor in his disappearance.
Keishe Jacobs

Jacobs said it was unfair that Kesha, who was only a year younger than Gabby Pettito when she disappeared, did not receive the same intense search effort and publicity as Pettito.

“My heart goes out to everyone who is missing, I don’t want any parent to go through what I went through,” Jacobs told CNN.

“But at the same time it frustrates me because Keisha didn’t get that attention. Why did the FBI think her case was more important than Kesha’s?”

‘Matters not taken seriously’

Years of inequity led Derica Wilson to form the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. in 2008 to help raise awareness for missing people of color. inspired to launch. Wilson, a former law enforcement officer, said police often label missing black people, including children, as fugitives or suggest they were involved in criminal activity. And with most police agencies allocated minimal resources to missing persons units, people of color are more likely to fall through the cracks, Wilson said. Some of those same families have sought national and local news coverage to no avail, she said.

Wilson said her organization hopes to combat the issue—which she insists is a result of systemic racism—by sharing and publicizing the stories of black and brown families with missing loved ones through the media. .

“We look at it and we say ‘Why don’t we?'” Wilson said. “Our families, our communities are desperate to find our missing loved one and sadly their cases are not taken seriously.”

MPs have also made efforts to address the issue.

Earlier this year, Minnesota’s state legislature passed a bill authored by state Representative Ruth Richardson that would create a missing and slain African American women and girls workforce.

Richardson said the group would be tasked with making recommendations to improve how the state handles cases of missing black women and girls. She pointed to the story of 18-year-old Brittany Clardy who went missing in St Paul’s in 2013 and police suggested to the family that she run away with her boyfriend. Richardson said Clady’s family began their investigation and clues began to emerge. Clark’s body was later found in the trunk of his car. Alberton Palmer was 40 years in prison for his death.

Richardson said she wants the police to behave fairly in these cases, find a trajectory for stories to make news, and create a state-level office for missing and murdered black women and girls.

“What we see is that when black women and girls go missing, they’re more likely to be identified as fugitives and then you don’t get the same level of law enforcement engagement, support and you don’t get amber Don’t get alerts,” Richardson said. “So there are a lot of things within our system that are set up in a way that is really failing when these families and these black women and girls go missing.”

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