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:
...it 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...