By Guest Contributor Kendra James
The bias in reporting the stories of missing children and people of color is nothing new. The names Elizabeth Smart, Shondra Levey, Kaley Anthony, Adam Walsh, Jaycee Dugard, and even the Lindbergh Baby roll off my tongue easily, but how many Pam Butlers, Hassani Campbells, or Jakadrien Turners can I name?
Two weeks ago on The Today Show, Ann Curry sat with the mother and sister of George Smith, a white Connecticut man who vanished on a cruise during his honeymoon in 2005. The same morning, I was following the story of Jakadrien, the 15-year-old runaway from Texas who went missing for eight months, before being found recently in the country of Colombia where she had been mistakenly deported.
After being featured on Today, Smith’s story was covered by Dateline NBC that evening. Turner’s, I read about on Tumblr and, later, Gawker. A search for the girl’s name that day revealed no articles on the New York Times website, and nothing on the Today Show site. Maybe the saddest part about that is my Tumblr dashboard regularly features pictures, signs, and descriptions for missing children of color who aren’t getting any attention at all aside from a few thousand reblogs via the site’s social justice blogs.