Not lost on us

Overdue TV series examines plight of missing African-Americans

We don’t know how the national media decide on which missing persons cases to latch onto and obsess about. It seems pretty arbitrary and scattershot – as in, no one has a plan.

But we have noticed, as have many others around the country, that the major media – which think themselves enlightened and way above average in racial sensitivity – focus almost exclusively on missing white women. If you’re blonde, all the better.

One program is aiming to make up for that: Find Our Missing, a 10-part series on missing African-Americans that began airing Wednesday on cable network TV One in conjunction with the Black and Missing Foundation.

“African-Americans represent 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, but 33 percent of its missing people, according to 2010 Census and FBI statistics,” says a report on Reuters.com. “You would never know it from news stories about missing people that focus almost exclusively on young, white women.”

Derrick Butler, whose sister Pamela disappeared around Valentine’s Day in 2009, said the show could serve several purposes at once.

“Hopefully someone will come forward who saw something,” he said. “But if not … it gets the story out and it lets people know that we’re not getting coverage. And hopefully somebody else’s family will be helped by it. Maybe the mass media will look at it and say, ‘We can do a much better job than what we’re doing here.’”

The unfortunate message sent by the media’s apparent obsession with missing white women is that some lives are more valuable than others. Tell that to the Derrick Butlers of the world.

In addition, solving such cases sometimes
hinges on getting the word out.

The black community shouldn’t have to start
its own show – on a network aimed at blacks – to get the correct message out: that every one of God’s children is a treasured part of the kingdom and an integral part of the lives of relatives and friends and the greater community. But we’re glad that the story is at least being told somewhere. Finally.

It’s bad enough that someone has gone missing. Their plight shouldn’t be lost on the rest of society, and certainly not because of race.

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