"We want our kids back too"

A new viral Web campaign seeks to raise awareness about missing children of color.

Published August 15, 2008 4:30PM (EDT)

A Google news search turns up over 2,000 hits for "Caylee Anthony," the name of a white Florida toddler who went missing in July. The names Natalee Holloway, Madeleine McCann and Elizabeth Smart are familiar to people around the world, owing to the extensive media coverage of their disappearances. But you probably haven't heard of Tomisha Ross, Camille Johnson, Jasmine Kasner, Jasmine Hosbon or Callie Munn -- all of whom have gone missing this summer. And all of whom are black.

I hadn't heard of them until I read a recent post by Renee of Womanist Musings, who writes, "By pointing out the invisibility of these young black women I am not stating that Caylee [Anthony] does not deserve attention, I am only seeking the same kind of attention for [people of color]. We do not love our children any less than white families. Yet when one of our children disappears resources are not devoted to finding them and this often leads to tragic results." Those tragic results include the torture and murder of Romona Moore, a 21-year-old black woman from New York whose mother, Elle Carmichael, reported her missing a few hours after Romona said she'd "be right back." According to the Village Voice, police told Carmichael that since Romona was an adult, they were "not supposed to take the report," even after 24 hours had gone by. Carmichael called local media outlets and got the brushoff. Only after Romona's family contacted politicians, who put pressure on the NYPD, did the official search for Romona begin, 93 hours after her disappearance. That was the same day she was murdered.

The lack of media and police response to cases of missing people of color has prompted former ad writer and blogger Black Canseco to launch a viral Web campaign called We Want Our Kids Back Too. It's a series of posters featuring the faces of missing children with tag lines like: "He had his whole life ahead of him, too," "Her mother hasn't slept since she disappeared, either," and "Her close-knit community was shaken, too." Writes Black Canseco, "Each ad highlights a different child/teen and reminds us that they are just as human, just as 'all-american' as Jesse Davis, Natalee Holloway, Elizabeth Smart and all the rest who receive so much focus. The ads also encourage us all to do better about giving all children a fighting chance for safe recovery regardless of ethnicity and background." There's a Photobucket album for the posters, which people are encouraged to spread around. More information on missing people of color can be found at Missing Minorities and Black and Missing.

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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