The families of more than 64,000 missing African-American girls and women are still grieving and wondering if their loved ones will ever make it back home while the rest of the country has pretty much turned a blind eye to most of the disappearances.
According to the National Crime Information Center, more than 270,000 minorities have been reported missing since 2010, with almost half of that number comprised of African-Americans and roughly 64,000 being African-American girls and women.
Despite these troubling statistics, you won’t find hashtags, peaceful protests or investigative news stories begging for the safe return of so many missing Black women.
All over the globe, Black females are among those being targeted and abducted, and it’s vital that all of these women get the media attention they deserve so that hopes of bringing them back home can soon become a reality.
The abduction of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in mid-April shook the nation after a social media campaign helped to force major news outlets to shine a light on what happened.
The leader of the Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, and the U.S. has since stepped in to aid in efforts to get the girls back home safely.
However, U.S. and Nigerian officials believe the girls have already been split up and taken out of the country to be sold. Kidnappings continue to take place as eight more girls were abducted Tuesday.
Now the hashtags “#BringBackOurGirls,” “BringBackOurDaughters” and “RealMenDontBuyGirls” have taken Twitter and Instagram by storm as “#BringBackOurGirls” is nearing its 1 millionth retweet.
Since then, celebrities such as rapper Drake and singers Justin Timberlake and Mary J. Blige have taken to their personal social media accounts in order help garner mass media attention and get the country focused on bringing all the girls back home safely. Even first lady Michelle Obama shared a picture holding a sign that read, “#Bring Back Our Girls.”
In light of such a tragic event, it’s important for all missing Black women and girls to be pushed to the forefront of the media’s attention. Despite such a vast number of missing people in the U.S. being African-American females, there is a shocking lack of news coverage about them.
For example, many people haven’t heard of 15-year-old Shirdyn Toe from Fort Worth, Texas, who has been missing since January, or 16-year-old Alexandria Springfield who went missing around the same time from Dallas. Neither of these teens has been found nor have their stories garnered much attention in the mainstream media.
In the past, investigators have made it clear that the longer people remain missing, the more likely it is that they will be found dead. This is why media attention can be key to ensuring that cases don’t go cold and leads continue to pour in.
Without such a strong social media backing, it’s possible that even the missing girls in Nigeria would have gone unnoticed by national and international news outlets.
The girls had been missing for weeks before the social media campaign helped to force major news outlets to pick up the story.
Even CNN’s Frida Ghitis said, “If it had happened anywhere else, this would be the world’s biggest story.”
With social media being proven to have such a strong societal impact, it’s likely that a strong online push for the safe return of more than 64,000 missing African-American girls and women in the U.S., in addition to the missing schoolgirls in Nigeria, could eventually result in bringing all of our girls back home.