A new HBO docusery follows the Black and Missing Foundation’s efforts for more than a decade to locate missing black people and draw attention to their disappearances. He also explores the media’s neglect of these cases – what has come to be known as “missing white woman syndrome”.
The term was first coined by the late journalist Gwen Ifill at the Unity: Journalists of Color conference in 2004. During the conference’s “National Security Media Coverage” panel, Ifill – chuckles – did remark “if there is a missing white woman, you are going to cover this every day”.
The “Black and Missing” docuseries – in addition to revisiting the disappearances of Pamela Butler, Tameka Huston and Keeshae Jacobs, among other barely covered cases examine why.
“It’s part of the availability of black lives in our country – that two people can go missing at the same time and the whole nation is focused on the white person,” said Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. the second episode of the four-part series.
Warren also pointed out that the normalization of dehumanization and violence against blacks in entertainment media dates back to the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation” and the controversial but long-running reality series “Cops”.
“If you have been bombarded all your life with messages and images of poor, shot, out, dangerous blacks it is no surprise that when a black person is in distress, missing, murdered, it is not great. -thing. of white society, ”the reporter said. “Because they think we don’t have much to lose.
“When you see in the media that terrible things are happening in black communities, a lot of people think that black people are basically complicit in things that have happened to them.”
The consequences of this apathy have largely hampered black families in searching for their loved ones.
Janell Johnson-Dash, whose daughter Mishell-Nicole DiAmonde Green went missing in 2011, shared the hardships she faced in trying to get media attention to her child’s case. His story underscored how crucial this coverage would be.
“It’s not easy to publicize a missing colored child,” Johnson-Dash told the filmmakers.
While many of the Bronx family’s media efforts were unsuccessful, one successful contact ultimately led to their daughter’s return. After catching Whoopi Goldberg’s attention, Green’s parents took to Goldberg’s daytime talk show, “The View,” to discuss their daughter’s case. Fourteen minutes after their appearance, they received an anonymous tip and found their daughter.
Earlier this year, observations on the relentless coverage of the disappearance and later death of social media personality Gabrielle Petito led to heightened awareness of the coverage imbalance and prompted promises of accountability. increased media coverage of missing persons of color cases. The case of the young white woman and her missing, and now deceased white fiancé, received wide media coverage for months.
“Black and Missing” can be viewed on HBO.
The Huffington Gt