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.