Growing up, I was always fascinated by stories of black girls and women that made the news due to tragic circumstances. It wasn’t some morbidity that drew me to their cases; it was a sense of familiarity. I was looking at faces that were similar to mine and that made me identify with these victims or survivors. I would think about their families, their loved ones whose hearts ached while these women were missing, who were angered by them being mistreated, or who mourned because they were murdered.
In my 20s, if I’m honest, I engaged in some reckless behaviors. I walked home at night alone. I would go out with friends and end up at an after-party with unfamiliar faces in strange neighborhoods. I did things that I thought were stereotypical for a carefree youth—in reality, I was thoughtless of my own safety and didn’t lean on the lessons my mother taught me in my youth about my being cautious of my company and surroundings.
The women in these stories I report on are more than the highlight story of the ten o’clock news. These are and were our sisters who endured deception and/or violence. We shouldn’t sweep their stories under the rug and move on to the next hot topic. We need to remember what they went through in order to change patterns of behavior. We need to teach our children how to protect themselves from predators who seek to do them harm. We need to teach each other how to avoid those who whisper sweet nothings in our ear but also use emotional or physical abuse to control us. We need to highlight stories of our missing black girls because their stories go under-reported in the media — if they’re reported at all. We cannot control the actions of those who are set in their diabolical ways, but we can learn from one another’s experiences.
Why is it that, according to the National Crime Information Center of the FBI, approximately 33 percent of people reported missing are black, but that isn’t reflective on the evening news?
We need to bring awareness to the stories of our black girls who have been mistreated, are missing, and who have been murdered because they matter. Their lives matter. They are real people, not just sensationalized news bulletins. Let’s keep their stories alive.