Flores, Jackson, Martinez…Have You Seen THESE Children?
by Miss Blurbette
Last week, the Manhattan district of Attorney’s office re-opened the Etan Patz case. Etan, a 6 year old, disappeared from Manhattan on the morning of May 25, 1979. The day would mark his first trip to the bus stop by himself; it would also be the last day he would be seen alive and in 2001 he was declared dead.
He became the most searched for child in the country, short of the Lindberg baby. The case spawned missing children databases, legislation and he was the first missing child to be pictured on a milk carton. Though many have been declared missing since then, the most reported all share one thing in common; they are all white.
When people think of missing people, names like Natalie Holloway, Dru Sjoden, Jacob Wetterling, Adam Walsh, Jon Benet Ramsey and Elizabeth Smart come to mind. They do not think of the 10 African American women missing or found dead in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. They do not think of LaToyoia Figeroa, who at 5 months pregnant, went missing during the same time as Natalee Holloway.
It happens so often it has been given a syndrome; Missing White Women Syndrome first coined by Gwen Ifill is term for the disproportionately greater degree of coverage in television, radio, newspaper and magazine reporting of a misfortune, most often a missing person case, involving a young, attractive, white, middle-class (or above) woman, compared with cases concerning a missing male, or missing persons of other ethnicities or economic classes. Even conservative pundit Michille Malkin has termed it “Missing Pretty Girl” syndrome. (Source for definition from Wiki)
There continues to be a race barrier in logic and empathy in this country. What these cases tell us is that white people, particularly white women, particularly blond white women, is that people of color hold no value. They aren’t worth the resources used for on foot searches or mentions on the news. They aren’t even worth the value of printed flyers in your local convenient store.
As a mother, my heart aches for any parent that loses a child and trust me, if it were legal, I would head up a foundation to round up rapists, murderers and pedophiles and allow those they victimized to physically punish them to within an inch of their lives, daily, for all of eternity. They should all be brought to justice, regardless of their ethnicity or the ethnicity of those they harmed.
I want the Etan Patz case solved and the person responsible brought to justice. I want Natalee Holloway’s killers brought to justice. And I want justice for the thousands, yes, thousands of currently missing Asian, African American and Non-White Hispanic (I’m not fond of the distinction) men, women and children all over this country. As citizens, even it’s not our child, a child we know or have a thing to do with, we must pressure our local media to cover the story…until there is resolution. We must demand national media hear the wails of mothers of every ethnicity until their child is brought home. We must each take an active role in the search by keeping our eyes open, reporting things we see that ‘just don’t feel right’ , by signing up for Amber Alerts and frequenting the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited childen. Flores, Jackson, Martinez…Have You Seen THESE Children? Ask yourself, why not? Regardless of ethnicity, these are all our babies.
To not play a role in the search for all missing children or to bypass a sign without looking of a missing child because they don’t look like you is not just a disservice you do to people of color but also to the presumed humanity of people that don’t look like us.