Imagine a time when members of the Black community looked out for one another. Neighbors were more like family, children were safe, and troubling news such as 26 open missing persons cases were incredibly rare.
There is an unrelenting rage boiling in our community due to the lack of coverage or collaborative effort to find the missing Black and Latina girls in Washington D.C. However, we can point fingers, or even yell at the police, city officials and federal government, but what are we doing to protect our own children?
While there has been coverage from major news outlets and support from organizations such as BET and The Women’s March on Washington Organization, some would argue that the issue is larger than one may think.
There have been many cases of missing children who are White that have received major state and national coverage, along with extensive, coordinated searches, but when 14 Black girls go missing, it is a different story.
The issue is not that there is no coverage. It is that this issue became important when it became a hashtag. It should have never gotten this far.
What can we really ask of our civil servants?
There are mixed messages on the severity of this situation. Some outlets say there are 14 girls missing, while others are implying that the girls aren’t really in danger and are labeling them “runaways.”
While that assumption is not stressed by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser or other public officials, there is still a permeating, public message that lessens the concern of onlookers across the nation.
“Before leaving home, we want kids to talk to a teacher or counselor or someone at church so we can get them the services they need”
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) March 27, 2017
Since gaining national attention, the news of our missing girls has produced town halls filled with tears and frustration. However we are still left to wonder, “What else can be done?”
New York resident Aura Severino is one of many Americans following this story.
“Law enforcement needs to understand why they are [being] taken,” Aura says. “Are they victims of opportunity or targeted? These are questions that need to be asked to figure out what is being done with these girls. Once that is understood, moves can be made to prevent more girls from being taken and rescuing those who are already gone.”
Aura, a program manager in New York City, also feels that the family unit plays a huge role in making a difference. “Families need to educate their girls and boys about what is currently happening to encourage vigilant awareness,” she says.
Although local and state city officials are making strides to find the missing girls, one can’t help but notice that there is a lack of coverage on the fact that there are missing boys too. What is to be done when our boys, our future leaders who are raised to protect our communities and families, are also missing?
Atlanta resident Mario Jackson believes it all comes down to training and resources.
“There needs to be more neighborhood surveillance and trainings in kidnapping for D.C. Police,” Mario says. “I also believe in the old-school practice of neighborhood watches and communal security.”
Fortunately, it is being reported that Mayor Bowser is unrelenting in her efforts to address the number of missing person cases in D.C. However, some believe that addressing the issue starts right here in our own communities.
‘Unity’ plays a major role in “community,” and its members have a responsibility to be a part of it.
While Mayor Bowser attempts to reel in the community through her task force and other efforts, none of it matters without the support and action of the community. The task force will follow a procedure as deemed appropriate by the city, but how will the community light the beacon of hope?
Although New York-D.C. Native Aisha Jones commends the city’s efforts to make a difference, she charges us, the community, to do our part.
“We are so quick to save on the money and energy we put into our kids that we don’t worry about safety,” Aisha says. “Most of these girls are being abducted on the way home. Their parents are not picking them up from school or encouraging a buddy system or teaching them how to fight back.”
Like Mario, Aisha agrees that the proper resources are critical in resolving these issues.
“There should be self-defense classes for both boys and girls,” she says. “Also there is a responsibility to speak up if you see something. ‘Snitches get stitches’ does not apply when you see someone in danger.”
Take a look at BET’s compelling video on the recent news coverage below:
— BET (@BET) March 25, 2017
Weigh in below on how you and others can work to rebuild the community and protect our children.