March 17, 2022
Derrica Wilson and her sister-in-law Natalie Wilson co-founded the Black and Missing Foundation together with the alarming number of missing Black women and children in mind. Every day people of color go missing and the same passion that is put behind finding White women, men and children is not exercised. In most cases, the whereabouts of people of color remain unknown for years and the incident is not classified as a crime and is not heavily investigated.
Why is there a disparity of coverage between missing White people and missing Black and Brown persons?
I can name Natalie Holloway, Lacey Peterson, Caylee Anthony, Chandra Levy, Gabby Petito and Elizabeth Smart. Those names just roll off of my tongue. How many people out there can name one Black person that has garnered mainstream media? Not one because it does not exist. People don’t know about Relisha Rudd, Arianna Ficks, Akia Eggleston, and Tiffany Jones. It is our responsibility to shine a spotlight on these cases because our community matters.
These are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, they’re valuable members of our community, and they deserve that equal coverage. They deserve for their cases to be taken seriously. Law enforcement are the gatekeepers. Why are they not taking our cases seriously? Why are they labeling our children as runaways? Why are they associating our men and women with, you know, being involved in some sort of criminal activity? That is not telling the truth about the situation. So, that is what our fight is. Our fight is to change that narrative and bring our missing home.
What are the assumptions being made by police?
They dehumanize, desensitize and, it’s associated as this is part of our lives that we are criminals and that we brought this on ourselves. That is so far from the truth. We have to recognize these individuals as family and valuable members of our community. We need to create programs to help support them for even going missing. This is a pandemic in itself. When we started the organization nearly 14 years ago, 30% of missing persons in the United States were persons of color, that number has since increased to 40%. Those numbers are alarming. And when you factor in why they’re doing this, you find human trafficking, domestic violence, mental health, parental abduction, and the list goes on and on.
What effect has the COVID pandemic had on this crisis?
What we have seen over the past two years during this global pandemic, is that our children have been lured online through sex trafficking. Any device, any platform that has a chat feature has predators in those chat rooms. So, with the pandemic, more children were forced to learn online. Parents are working, they do not have the time to sit there and monitor every moment that their child spends online. That is where these predators are striking.
When you think about this monster, think about the fact that again, there is a correlation between missing persons and domestic violence. The COVID pandemic makes us think about those individuals that could no longer go to school or work. They were locked in their homes with their abusers. Then they were looking for love and validation in all the wrong places.
Photo credit: Rolling Out