Who are you?
My name is Erika Marie. I’m a journalist (15 years) and activist who lives in Los Angeles.
Why did you start Our Black Girls?
You can read through my inspiration for launching OBG in the About Me section!
How long has OBG existed?
I first launched the site back in 2018. It has been my passion project.
How do you find the cases you report on?
Government and private databases, archive news reports, social media, personal requests, history books, lectures, and conversations with activists.
Do you contact family members of the women you report on?
No, I don’t. The information that I pull from can be found in public records, news reports, and social media. I don’t directly contact loved ones of these women and girls, however, I do receive information from family members of missing persons or about murder cases that have gone unsolved. They often request for their sisters/daughters/mothers/cousins/friends/etc to be highlighted here on the site and I do my best to share their stories both factually and empathetically. It should be noted, that if relatives or friends of a missing person sends me information, I’ve only taken cases that have been reported to authorities first.
What happens if I notice there is a mistake in your report?
Please contact me so I can make sure to make changes immediately. I want these stories to be represented properly and with care, and it is never my intention to falsely report on any of the cases included on the website.
Do you contact law enforcement?
No, but I have had law enforcement officials contact me about cases reported on here at OBG. I am not a member of law enforcement nor am I a private detective. I purposefully include contact information in each article (if available) so readers can directly reach out to investigators about a case.
Do you have any restrictions regarding the types of cases you report about?
For cases that involve murder victims, there is no range of time that I follow. Any time in history. However, for missing person cases, I don’t often write about stories within the first month or two because, in my experience, people are often located. If there are missing person cases that I believe require immediate attention, I will share flyers and information on the OBG social media pages.
Also, I will report on a story regardless of the amount of information available. Some sites shy away from cases that don’t have an ample amount of information for lengthy articles, but I don’t adhere to those restrictions. Even cases where there aren’t even photos of a victim will receive recognition here.
Runaway minors cases are covered, but on a case-by-case basis as I’ve experienced runaways with repeated behaviors. However, I will share their missing person flyers as many times as necessary on the OBG social media pages.
Do you ever delete articles?
Yes. If a minor is located and their parent or guardian reaches out for their information to be taken down, I will look into if the minor’s missing person case has been officially closed by authorities before removing. If I’ve reported on a woman as a missing person and she reaches out to tell me that she’s alive and well, I advise her to reach out to authorities or certain news stations because she is documented in government databases as a person who is still missing.
It is important to note that even after an article is deleted from my database, the result may still appear in search results. I have no control over that.
Why do you include information that makes a victim “look bad”?
The information that I provide is to help bring awareness, or reignite or resolve a case. If there is something about a woman or girl that a reader may see as unattractive or unacceptable, that is not my concern. We never know what it is about someone’s story that may aid in their recovery, bring justice to their case, or possibly be a warning to others in similar situations. Often, cases of those who have been arrested, served prison time, were involved in sex work, were homeless/transient, or were a part of the LGBTQIA+ community have been disregarded, especially among Black women and girls. Regardless of what a reader’s personal beliefs, morals, and views are, all are deemed valuable for care and coverage here at OBG.
Do you report on trans women?
Trans women are women. Their stories will always have a place here.
I know that this is a site about Black women and girls, but do you ever report on cases of other “People of Color”?
Aside from victims who are biracial and multiracial with Black inclusion, I have not reported on any other POCs. However, it is my intention to share stories of our “cousins” in the Indigenous (North America) community—not to step over or in front of the activists that are doing amazing work for Indigenous women, but to amplify their voices. For more information, you can look into the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMWI) organization.
Why don’t you write about Black women in other countries?
As a person who was born and raised in the States, my culture is bred in this country. I am familiar with laws, locations, and government institutions, which makes it easier for me to translate information into articles. Also, I’m only one person. There are thousands of cases of missing, murdered, and mistreated Black women and girls in America, and although I would love to tackle any and every case that I am drawn to, I have created boundaries for myself so I do not become burnt out or overworked.
Do you accept financial donations? What are they used for?
Yes, the PayPal button is provided in the sidebar of each article. Any donation is used for the upkeep of OBG. The website is self-funded, hosted, and designed, and fees are paid semi-annually or annually, however, donations are very, very little (but appreciated!). Additionally, much of the information shared in these stories have been pulled from records or newspapers that require payment, subscriptions, or memberships monthly or yearly.
What if I want to donate directly to the family/loved ones of the women/girls you report on?
I do my best to include information about crowdfunding campaigns or where donations can be sent if applicable. If found, those links are clearly labeled and included in the article, even if they have expired or closed.
Why don’t you write more articles more often?
I do my best to write two to three articles per week, but I also work as a full-time entertainment journalist elsewhere that requires much of my time, even outside of my 40-hour workweek. I tend to OBG outside of those hours.
Why don’t you respond to all inquires or messages sent via your “Contact” box?
I deeply appreciate every reader, every share, every like, every comment, but unfortunately, I don’t have much time to chit-chat with everyone who sends an email. If it’s about a case I will respond accordingly to obtain more information, but I don’t usually have time to engage in correspondences of a personal nature. Also, it can be overwhelming and triggering to report on these often disturbing and troubling cases, so it’s important for me to take time to disconnect and recharge (I recommend this for everyone!).
I am a loved one of a person you reported on. Can I share more information with you about her life/interests/family?
Yes! OBG is about sharing underreported cases but it is my heart that these women and girls are seen as people who are loved, worthy, and valued.
I’d like to write for OBG, are you taking on writers, contributors, or interns?
Unfortunately, no I am not and don’t plan on building a team of writers in the future.
More information will be added to this list as time goes on, so please check back!
Kassaundra Williams Patterson, 33: Missing From Oklahoma Since 1988
Shawtyeria Waites: Last Seen At Houston Apartment Complex
Kathryn Griffin, 43: Rode Away On Bike & Never Was Seen Again
Keyla Contreras, 18: Deaf-Mute Teen Vanishes From NYC In 2012
Audrey Nelson, 45: Last Seen Walking To Bus Stop In 2012
Julii Johnson Was Killed In A Murder-For-Hire Plot By Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriend 
Jackie Neal, Blues Singer, Was Killed By Her Ex-Boyfriend In 2005
Tyarra Williams, 19, Was In Her Apartment Complex When She Vanished In 2016
Tynisha Ysais Killed By Rapper Roommate Who Ate Parts Of Her Body Raw
Bridget Shiel Killed Running From Murderer, DNA Yields Suspect
- Kassaundra Williams Patterson, 33: Missing From Oklahoma Since 1988
- Shawtyeria Waites: Last Seen At Houston Apartment Complex
- Kathryn Griffin, 43: Rode Away On Bike & Never Was Seen Again
- Keyla Contreras, 18: Deaf-Mute Teen Vanishes From NYC In 2012
- Audrey Nelson, 45: Last Seen Walking To Bus Stop In 2012