As headlines blare that Gabby Petito’s body has been found and her death ruled a homicide, there are thousands of people of color whose disappearances are being ignored by the media.
As I wrote this post, news broke about confirmation of Petito’s death. There will surely be more coverage as the media delves into the “mystery” of her murder.
Joy Reid perfectly summed up the situation last night as she talked about the media’s “missing white woman syndrome,” a term coined by journalist Gwen Ifill. Before Gabby, there were Laci Peterson and Natalee Holloway. And yet, thousands of people of color have gone missing without any of the obsessive coverage those three got.
Reid brought up the case of one young Black man, named Daniel Robinson. “He’s missing part of an arm” and “was last seen driving away from his job site in the Buckeye, Arizona, desert on June 23,” Reid said. So Robinson’s mysterious disappearance could be just as tantalizing as Petito’s, she pointed out. But almost nobody has heard about it.
Guest Derrica Wilson, co-founder and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation, agreed that the disparity is “definitely the issue.” She said her foundation has “been sounding the alarm for nearly 14 years” because missing persons of color “are not taken seriously and no one is looking for us if we were to go missing.”
While the media pays lip service to Black lives mattering, it’s long overdue for them to walk the walk when it comes to Black disappearances.