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. In 2021, OBG became a trademarked, non-profit organization.
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 it. Suppose I’ve reported on a woman as a missing person and she reaches out to tell me that she’s alive and well. In that case, 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?
Transwomen 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, I share stories of our “cousins” in the Indigenous (North America) community on social media—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 cover cases involving Indigenous women? Their stories are underrepresented more than Black women.
I included this question because I receive it more than anyone would ever believe. Not only does it dismiss the concerns of missing and murdered Black women, it exposes the inquirer. I write about Black Indigenous women all of the time; their stories can be found all over OBG. However, usually, those who ask this don’t consider Black Indigenous women to be Indigenous, nor do they recognize her Indigenous roots because she is also Black. I do not believe in the erasure of Black Indigenous peoples and our missing sisters will always be represented here.
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 has 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 (for contact purposes).
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 which 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 inquiries or messages sent via your “Contact” box?
I deeply appreciate every reader, every share, every like, and 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?
No, I am not, nor do I plan on building a team of writers in the future.
How can I help or get involved in raising awareness about these cases?
Please feel free to share these articles, post them on social media, make videos about cases that you may be drawn to, send emails to your local news stations asking for coverage and updates…but please, be respectful. I do not endorse or encourage bullying or targeted harassment against any person, company, or government agency.
I need information about statistics! Can you send me information about [insert inquiry here]?
Respectfully, I cannot answer all of the questions I receive of this nature. This information is provided for free publicly online by investigative agencies like the FBI and organizations including the Black & Missing Foundation and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. If you have specific questions about statistics or numbers, those answers can be found quite easily.
I think I recognize someone you’ve written about/I have information about a case. Can you help me?
If you believe that you have information that could be useful to any of these cases, please contact the authorities. Their contacts are included in every article for questions/inquiries such as these. I will not contact investigators on your behalf but if you can help these women, girls, and their families, please do not hesitate to share what you know with the authorities.
I think someone you wrote about may be an unidentified person. Do you know if [insert name here] has been ruled out as [insert Jane Doe name here]? Can you check?
I do not keep up to date with DNA or forensic testing in any case. If you have inquiries regarding such matters, please contact the authorities listed to send them questions. Every so often, certain sleuthing sites will have information as those with curious minds have reached out to investigators. Certain agencies and databases will include a history of its DNA testing on unidentified persons.
I’m a doctor/forensics expert/private investigator/etc and I want to partner with OBG.
That’s amazing that you want to help these families! OBG isn’t looking for specific partnerships, but if there is a case covered that you’re interested in investigating—and it has been made clear here on OBG that I have a relationship or contact with loved ones—please let me know and hopefully you can aid in bringing resolution.
Why don’t you have a TikTok page or a podcast? It would really help!
*UPDATE* OBG is on TikTok and the podcast has launched!
I fully understand that there are a million other ways for OBG to gain visibility, but for those with these suggestions, please understand that I am one person. My interest is, and always has been, sharing these stories of Black girls and women who have slipped through the cracks or have gone unrepresented altogether. Now that I am developing OBG beyond being a collection of cases into a non-profit to help victims and survivors, my time is even more limited.
Please feel free to make TikTok videos about these cases and if you have a favorite podcast, contact them about one of the cases you’ve read about here. Tag “#OurBlackGirls” or “@OurBlackGirls” and I’ll make sure to share them if applicable.
More information will be added to this list as time goes on, so please check back!