Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Where's The Media Frenzy When Brown Babies Go Missing?

Late last month when I wrote a blog about the delicious site Black And Married With Kids, one of MyBrownBaby's followers, Kat of The Kat Lee Reader left a sweet, passionate comment about another site she stumbled on, Black And Missing. What she wrote touched my heart: shows many African American children that are missing that I've never seen on the news. My first thought was, "How did these kids go unnoticed?" I immediately found myself back here [at MyBrownBaby], in a weird way looking for an answer. Why doens't the news show the children on this site? Your blog has such an integrity--a connection with the reader. What is the answer?

I was pretty blunt with Kat--told her that children of color who go missing rarely show up on the news because they simply aren't valued by these news organizations like white children are.

...we can not dismiss that, whether intentional or not, our brown babies simply get treated as if they are less important/valuable than their white counterparts. It's infuriating. Sad. Frustrating. Wrong.

Perhaps the families of the missing black kids don't have the resources/publicity arms needed to get the word out. Or maybe the editors who decide what's newsworthy are desensitized to the pain and agony black parents face when their children go missing. Whichever the case, SOMEBODY should do better by brown babies.

I encouraged Kat to be an advocate for change--to point out the injustice to family and friends, write letters to and leave comments on the sites of neglectful news organizations, and to blog about it, which she did (click HERE to see what Kat wrote).

Not more than two weeks later, one of my favorite New York Times editorial columnists, Bob Herbert, picked up where Kat and I left off; in his column yesterday, Herbert lamented the recent killings of some three dozen children in the Chicago Public Schools system, and the lack of coverage and attention the deaths have gotten in mainstream media. A veteran journalist, Herbert opened his piece reminiscing about a news meeting he attended as a young deputy editor at the Daily News, in which a white editor questioned the color of a murdered baby to help determine whether a story about the child's death deserved "big play." He went on to write that he was reminded of that old story as he followed "the lavish" coverage given to the murder of a 21-year-old Wesleyan University student, allegedly at the hands of a former fellow student, while coverage of the murders of the black and Latino Chicago school children went virtually ignored.

...the press is still very color conscious in the way it goes about covering murder. Editors may not be asking, “What color is that victim?” But, on some level, they’re still thinking it.

...It’s a searing double-standard that tells us volumes about the ways in which we view one another, and whose lives are considered to have value in this society and whose are not. Another disturbing aspect of the coverage is the extreme prurient interest that drives it. The press goes wild over stories about murderous attacks on women who are young, attractive and white.

A closer look at how and why the news media covers some of these stories is overdue...

I encourage each of you to read the rest of Bob Herbert's column and then do your part by leaving a comment for him and the Times's editors, thanking Bob for bringing attention to this issue, demanding that the media do better by brown babies, and perhaps hipping them to Black And Missing if they need help finding worthy stories of children who've gone missing. Let your voice be heard. Do it for James Richardson, and Megan Mills, Randy Alana Elliot, and Devin Allender, and Alisha McKinney, and...

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  1. *big deep sigh*

    It makes me sad, any angle you look at it. I'm heading over to read his column now. ESPECIALLY about the Chicago schools problem. I believe I saw on CNN something like 36 students had been killed. Why is no one talking about this? Does no one care? I want to know what's happening in Chicago? What are they doing to address this? Who is doing the shooting? Are they being caught? It's a shame how hard you have to dig to find the answers....Great post as always...

  2. Another great site is:

    It was founded by an AA female police officer Derrica Wilson in the DC Area but has national reach. Keep up the great work ladies, it is much needed.

  3. So sad. I remember it tooks MONTHS before a missing black girl here in Florida got any national airplay. Yet I turn on the Today Show and they are STILL talking about white kids that went missing years and years ago. I think not only their families, but we as black folk need to advocate on behalf of these missing kids. Write the morning news shows, both local and national. Make your voice be heard.

  4. Hi there!

    I've noticed that well as my husband. I don't think it's fair at all because regardless of race, he/she is still someones baby.

    It's great that you will stand up for that...for what is right!!!

    God bless you!

    OH..and thank you for stopping by my blog too!

  5. thank you for letting me know about this article, I love coming to your blog and these wonderful stories that open up my mind. I did notice that especialy here in Canada.

  6. Wow... This sums it up well. I hope this is truly eye opening for some. I have my strong opinions but for the sake of my job (I'm not a columnist) I'll keep my mouth shut here.

    I do, however feel like my station does a fairly good job of bringing questions like this to the table. We all can hopefully make a dent in this problem if we each speak up.

    Great post!

  7. Sobering and Chilling. . .thank you so much for bringing this issue to light in the midst of this journalistic darkness. With seven brown babies of my own who are all resting safely in their own beds as I type this, I am moved to tears. . .and to action starting with checking out the links that you've provided.

  8. This is sad. Truth is, the more people try to make children of color insignificant, the more significant they will become. We can't keep being pushed aside and swept under the rug. You have taken yet another step toward the acknowledgement of the significance of our children. No matter how some may try, we won't go away. This time it's a President of color next time, it's the majority in the Senate and House. The more you push us aside the bigger we become. Either our needs get met now or we keep mobilizing and make the decisions ourselves.

  9. Unfortunately I am not shocked but I am angry. I will do my part as request and will also blog about this injustice. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    I love your site design. I feel as if I am sitting on your couch in your living room. :)

    Peace. Love. Light.

  10. Denene, I work for an organization where I'm surrounded by T.V's and scrolling news headlines! There is not a day that goes by that you don't here about some crime done against a child somewhere. I tell you, with the suicides of the two boys recently and the killings of children at the hands of parents has caused a bit of depression in me I think. And, while I hurt for all kids, I do find myself getting upset about the continued coverage of Natalie Holloway, Casey Anthony and the little British girl and I mean good coverage, while a minority child gets only a short sentence headline if that.

    I'm so glad you brought attention to this topic.

  11. Denene, I'm so glad you blogged about this site!!
    Bravo to you and to them! it's definitely awakening.
    I hate to say this, but I had not heard about the chicago childrens deaths; I went straight to the article, and as Herbert mentioned, I've heard about the Craigslist incident, though it's minor in comparison.
    This is so completely backward.
    Talking about it can make a difference.
    A cricket is small, but if it's in the room, it can be heard. (Then there'll be somebody big running around with a shoe an a case of insomnia- but that what it takes sometimes!)

  12. Thank you for bring awareness to this heart wrenching issue.


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