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Black people disappearing, disregarded becoming ‘crisis’, what’s being done about it?

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FOX 26 Houston
Damali Keith
January 1, 2024

More leaders are now acknowledging the crisis of Blacks going missing and receiving little or no public attention. So California has passed into law the “Ebony Alert” system to help locate missing minorities who often go ignored.

“Our missing matter too,” says Co-Founder of The Black and Missing Foundation Natalie Wilson, but actions from the masses don’t always support that sentiment.

“Forty percent of the missing population are people of color and I ask any of your viewers to name a person of color who has dominated the news cycle, and they can’t because it typically doesn’t happen,” Wilson adds.

California is the first state to create an alert notification system addressing that crisis. Ebony Alert, similar to an Amber Alert, will notify the public of missing Blacks, a group disproportionately disregarded when it comes to coverage.

“There’s a need for an Ebony Alert because people of color are disappearing at an alarming rate and typically their cases are under the radar when it comes to media coverage and getting law enforcement resources,” says Wilson.

Why is that happening? “Many times, when law enforcement classifies a missing child, someone under the age of 18, they’re classified as a runaway and if you’re classified as a runaway, you do not receive the Amber Alert or any type of media coverage at all,” Wilson explains.

No media attention often means the missing remain that way.

“When someone is missing, time is very critical, and we must reach the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” says Wilson. When that doesn’t happen, “Our cases, missing person cases remain open four times longer. These are our missing mothers and fathers, our children that are disappearing at an alarming rate, and we need to do something about it,” Wilson adds, and she says Ebony Alert is a step in the right direction and so is a recent effort in Minnesota.

“Representative Ruth Richardson created an office specifically to address missing and murdered women of color,” Wilson explains.

The Black and Missing Foundation has been at it for 15 years since Tamika Huston vanished in South Carolina, and Wilson says Huston’s family begged for help after her disappearance but couldn’t get anyone to listen. Then, a short time later, “Natalie Holloway disappeared and just saying her name alone, everyone knows her story. Tamika’s aunt Rebkah reached out to those same reporters and same networks, and she was met with silence. We were so disheartened by that,” explains Wilson.

Wilson says The Black and Missing Foundation will continue to fight for equal coverage for the missing despite zip code, economic status, or race, and she hopes other lawmakers will pass legislation to help make that happen.

Photo credit: FOX 26 Houston

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