By: Uncovered Staff
According to the most recent data from the 2019 United States Census and Pew Research Center, people who are Black or African American make up roughly 14 percent of the American population. However, nearly 40 percent of missing persons are people of color.
What’s even more startling, Black children make up about 33 percent of all missing child cases, the FBI reports.
These statistics are terrifying — and they’re statistics not everyone knows, including the mainstream media. Racial bias in media coverage has long been studied, concluding that media coverage of missing persons is imbalanced based on gender and race. News outlets disproportionately cover missing or murdered blond-haired, blue-eyed women over any other demographic.
Because of this terrifying disparity, advocates recognize that there needs to be increased attention on these cases.
The Black and Missing Foundation is doing the work.
According to their website, Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAMFI) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization “… whose mission is to bring awareness to missing persons of color; provide vital resources and tools to missing persons’ families and friends and to educate the minority community on personal safety.”
Founded in 2008 by sisters Derrica and Natalie Wilson, veterans of law enforcement and media relations, respectively, BAMFI was inspired by a missing person case in Derrica’s hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Their slogan “Help Us Find Us” resonates with many, emphasizing the need for people of all colors and backgrounds to help in this crisis.
At a time when national media was consumed by coverage of missing white women — Jennifer Wilbanks, Laci Peterson, and Natalee Holloway — the case of Tamika Huston, a Black woman from Spartanburg, received almost no media attention at all.
Recognizing the inequitable treatment of cases involving missing persons of color, Derrica and Natalie decided to put their professional experience to use in service of elevating the stories of victims the mainstream media had neglected. They created BAMFI to support families of victims with public awareness campaigns, as well as to provide a platform and community for loved ones to share their stories and connect with one another.
Advocacy on the ‘Big Screen’
In 2021, HBO released a four-part documentary series called Black and Missing, which highlights BAMFI’s mission and follows Derrica and Natalie in their fight to bring awareness to the missing person cases of marginalized communities.
As described on the show’s web page, “Black and Missing pulls back the curtain to explore how systemic behaviors and attitudes stem from centuries of deeply rooted racism.
This intimate look at Derrica and Natalie’s personal crusade to locate missing Black people also highlights stories of hope and closure as the Black and Missing Foundation contributes to the resolution of several high-profile missing person cases.”
Featured Cases Needing Attention
According to BAMFI, “cases of missing Black people remain unresolved four times longer than those of white people.” The disparity in law enforcement resources and media attention given to cases involving missing persons of color makes BAMFI’s work critical in helping friends and families find answers and seek justice for their missing loved ones.
While BAMFI has helped locate and reunite hundreds of missing persons with their loved ones, there are still thousands of open cases that need additional resources and investigation. A few cases currently in need of support:
- Akia Eggleston, Baltimore, Maryland – Eight months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, Akia Shawnta Eggleston was reported missing May 7, 2017, after she failed to show up for her baby shower.
- Keeshae Jacobs, Richmond, Virginia – Missing since September 26, 2016, Keeshae Eunique Jacobs was last heard from when she told her mother she was visiting a friend and would see her mother the next day. She never returned home.
- Relisha Rudd, Washington, D.C. – March 1, 2014, was the last time anyone saw Relisha Rudd, an eight-year-old girl who disappeared from a homeless shelter where she lived with her family.
For more information and to support the mission of highlighting cases of missing persons of color, visit Black and Missing Foundation. You can report a missing person, submit an anonymous tip, join the community, and donate to the cause.
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