Thursday, May 15, 2008

Black, missing, & insignificant

A while back, I wrote a post about how America tends to place a higher premium on missing white women than they do for just about any other group in this society. After reading that post again (as I frequently do with some of my older stuff), I thought that perhaps I was writing with hyperbole. Maybe things weren't as overt as I speculated.

That is, until I heard the story of Romona Moore. Here's the Reader's Digest of the story:

Romona Moore was a 21-year old daughter of a Guyanese immigrant and a student at Hunter College in New York. One day she stepped out to go to a local Burger King. She never came back. Worried, her mother -- Elle Carmichael -- called the NYPD; who essentially blew off the report. Moore was later found tortured and murdered. The NYPD is now being sued for botching this case.

What was most interesting about this case is that Moore's disappearance came fresh off the heels of another woman abduction that grabbed the attention of all of New York. In contrast to Moore's case, the NYPD launched a massive seearch for Svetlana Aronov; spouse of an affluent white doctor fom the Upper East side of New York. They pulled out all the stops during Aronov's investigation; including search dogs, door-to-door visits, and -- get this -- a psychic. A PSYCHIC!!! Oppositely, they didn't even so much as file a report for Moore.

For the full story, check out the article written by Sean Gardiner from the Village Voice. It's a little lengthy, but well worth the read.

Reading this article -- coupled with the conspicous reality that people of color apparently don't make good news stories (unless they're the ones committing the crimes), I'm convinced that my thesis about missing white women is not that far off after all.

Having a few police officer friends myself, I try to show a little more tolerance and forgiveness for the men and women wearing the badge. But stories like this; where those who operate under the "protect and serve" mission ignore particular types of people; sicken me to no end. But I don't place the onus solely on police negligence. True, they likely could do far more to address victims of color; especially considering the resources they willfully devote to the Natalee Holloways of the world. But I'd be remiss if I wasn't equally as critical of the media who feed off stories centering around white vicitimization while casually dismissing people of color. As the Village Voice article points out, attempts to involve the media in Moore's case were met with apathy by the media -- who are ostensibly committing to disseminating information affecting our world. When they decide to exclude particular groups in the interest of others whom they consider more 'newsworthy', they have to be brought to bear.

It is indeed a sad day, when people have to consider bleaching their skin in order to receive any validation in this country.

Hat tip to Malik for this story.


14 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
I still don't know if I 100% buy into your theory that it's all about race. My friend Bonnie Dorland's murder is still unsolved and no one seems to care. No press, no stories, no manhunt. (
If one of Barack's kids turned up missing do you really think there wouldn't be a massive effort to find them? Isn't this really about affluence more than skin color?

Malik said...

Let's say for the sake of argument that it's, oh, 80% about race. In practical terms, what's the difference? Why don't we focus on the glaring issue before we start analyzing the peripheral ones?

The H.C. said...

Hey Malik,
I guess that I would have to see the facts on it. I'm not much on anecdotal evidence. My example doesn't prove that no one cares about murdered white women, only that no one cared about Bonnie. These examples are very disturbing to me on an individual basis. However, I saw two examples of missing children alerts that were black children in one week on FOXNEWS of all places. I've also seen disturbing trends of 20 white women in a row. I need evidence of collusion by the networks, memos stating that it was done on purpose. "You know they would." isn't a very sound prosecution. I always try to consider whether or not I would want to be convicted on the same standard of proof that I'm using on someone else. Otherwise it's just a good question to raise.

Malik said...

That's perfectly reasonable H.C. Sometimes things I take to be common knowledge aren't so commonly known. You might find the following article interesting:

Malik said...

By the way, you should also check out the excellent website Black and Missing but not Forgotten

The H.C. said...

Hey Malik,
I checked out the MSN article and I did a bit of roaming around myself. I think that the fact that there is not equal representation of black people in "missing person" stories seems to me to be irrefutable. But having said that, it also seems we focus a lot on attractiveness too. The Scott Peterson case comes to mind. Peterson gets fan mail from adoring women despite the fact that he was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife. Is his good looks the reason this case was so closely followed by our media. I'd have to say yes. It's an injustice and I applaud you and Andre for bringing it up. I would caution you though on making the assuption that it's only because they are white. It's also affluence, attractiveness, ratings, and the salaciousness of the story. Thanks for the links, I'll check out the other one as soon as I get a chance.

Andre said...

Hippie, I cited race in this post because...well...race is sorta my thing. But I don't deny that there are a sundry of other qualifications necessary to give one story higher premium than another. Affluence is one such qualifer. Attractiveness is another. A perception of innocence and virtue (likely reserved for the white damsel-in-distress types) is yet another qualifer. But very few of the stories involving white women (affluent or not) have been so much more atrocious than anything that happens to women of color. Yet, those are the ones getting the airtime, making the police blotters, and gaining popularity.

That's not by accident.

Joanne said...

I agree with you all. Regardless of the reasons why the media chooses not to cover black victims, the fact is THEY DON'T! That's the unfortuate part.

I guess its up to us to keep information circulating. Lord knows the media is not doint their job.

Anonymous said...

The reality if ignored people of color is pretty sad, I'll admit. And you have every right to be critical of the media, law enforcement and other institutions that drop the ball. But why not be as critical of your black leaders? What are they doing outside of self-gratification. What has Oprah done about missing black women. If it means losing her fan base (middle aged white women) I doubt she'll say anything.

Malik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andre said...


For starters, black leadership is not an "institution." I think we should make that clear now.

Secondly, so-called black leaders that may have once been gatekeepers aren't anymore. Not for me, at least. Jesse Jackson does NOT wear the mask of my issues. Al Sharpton is NOT my guide. Black leadership is a joke.

Finally, don't let my sister hear you bad mouthing Oprah. I've got some theories about Oprah, but I'm not brave enough to say them. I suggest you follow my lead.

heiresschild said...

in reference to H.C.'s last sentence in his first set of comments: "Isn't this really about affluence more than skin color?" i think it's probably a little of both, but it's still sad that everyone doesn't receive the same service regardless of skin color, or who they are, etc. the same applies to healthcare also.

Kenya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kenya said...

I agree Heiresschild. Sorry I couldn't add anything more substantive to the discussion, but you all captured everything I was thinking.

Dairy queen white women = media attention. Black women with a little bit of weave = no media attention. It's that simple.