Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Caylee Anthony Is Not The Only Missing Child

image I have been following the story of missing Caylee Anthony.  Her mother was arrested on charges of child neglect, failing to report her daughter’s disappearance right away, and for lying to the police when questioned about the case. There has been a lot of media speculation regarding Caylee's disappearance and the degree of her mothers involvement.  CNN has been offering daily updates on little Kaylee and continues to speculate that her mother has been silent because she fears that speaking out may bring harm to her daughter. 

Without going any further about the specifics of  this case I feel that it is important to note that during this time period also missing are Tomisha Ross, Camille Johnson, and Jasmine Kasner.  Are these names unfamiliar to you?  If so it is quite understandable as their disappearance has not received the same kind of attention as that of Caylee.  These young women of colour have been ignored by the mainstream media, while the disappearance of Caylee continues to dominate headlines.   By pointing out the invisibility of these young black women I am not stating that Caylee does not deserve attention, I am only seeking the same kind of attention for POC.

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. The media has no issue in reporting on crimes that are committed by POC, however when a crime is committed against us the silence can be deafening.  1 out 3 Native American women are victims of rape and yet their assaults are not reported in the nightly news.  The face of victimhood is resoundingly white.

Crime is perceived as something that POC do, and not something that happens to us, and this is largely due to the racist society in which we live. Bodies of colour are deemed to exist for the purposes of violation and exploitation, and therefore when a crime is committed against us it is deemed unimportant.  There is a history of POC being violated in North America, and being the subject of violence, yet the media would have us believe that it is whites who must fear the violent and aggressive dark hordes by their one sided reporting.  A recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that the rate of violent victimization for Native Americans was more than twice the rate for the Nation (124 versus 50 per 1,000 persons age 12 and older). At least 86 percent of reported rapes or other sexual assaults against Indigenous women are committed by non-Indian men who are rarely prosecuted or punished, according to the report, “Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA.”  Black women who make up 7% of the population constitute 18%-28% of rape victims. If a person must negotiate two areas of stigmatization like disability or gender identity it is even less likely to be covered with the degree of seriousness or respect that it deserves.  The media consistently refuses to use the correct pronoun when dealing with transwomen, and engages in victim blaming.

This is basically about what bodies matter in this society.  Daily WOC are assaulted and murdered yet the consensual sexual relationship of John Edwards is deemed more worthy of a twenty four hour media blitz.  Pundits raged on and on about his "betrayal" blithely ignoring their own complicity in the invisibility of the crimes committed against us.  We are to be satisfied with the two hour Black in America special that was not all relevant to our lived experience.  The media claims to be racially sensitive, yet it often uses racist imagery and or language.  When we complain we are accused of being overly sensitive.  How is it possible to be to sensitive to the clear lack of reporting of our rapes and our incidents of violence.  Yes Caylee is missing but so are countless other children of colour...where is their front page story?


momma2brandon said...

Thank you for this post. I had never heard of the other missing children. In addition I had never heard that 1 out of every 3 N.A women are raped.
It is shocking to me with our melting pot society where white is no longer the majority...that there are still so many injustices.

Ebony Intuition said...
This link explains it all, its called the missing white women syndrome.
"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."
Everyone claims to love children but they only care when those who "look" a certain way go missing or get abused, or get mistreated.
And the news and media proves this on a daily basis. And all I do is shake my head in disgust.

Ebony Intuition said...

Also, i'm not sure if anyone is familiar with the term amber alert when children go missing in Canada. Im not sure if the usa has the same term, but I don't ever recall seeing a child of colour be reported missing under an amber alert. WHen an abmer alert is brodcasted, it will pop up on the bottom of the tv screen or the news station will go into the "breaking news" section" to inform the public about the missing child. Also the amber alert will be displayed on the boards on the highway that update drives on traffic.

elle said...

Ebony, we do have Amber alerts. One (sad) telling fact is that a number of people commented about how surprised they were when a not-so-long ago alert was about black, teenaged boys.

Ebony Intuition said...

Thank you elle for letting me know.

This next question is for everyone.

I wonder if money also has a part to play in it, because sometimes when children go missing a reward is offered not in all cases but in some, the same thing with other crimes (murder, robbery, etc). Rewards aren't always offered . A friend of mine her cousin was murdered last year and she was asking me this same question because her cousin's case was the only shooting case at the time that involved a 50g's reward for tips on the murder.

Renee said...

@Ebony I can remember an amber alert for a missing Asian girl but that is as far as it goes in terms of color.

elle said...

@Ebony I think absolutely money plays a part in determining who is "important," who has access to the media, etc.

But when it comes down to it, I think race/ethnicity play a much larger role.

SjP said...

This is exactly why I began using my Wordless Wednesday posts to highlight those who are Black and missing but not forgotten!

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Great post and thank you!

I am glad you mentioned about how the news does not report on Native American women and sexual assault/rape. Much of the mainstream news in the USA never reports on Native Americans nor specifically Native American women. Just from looking at the local newspaper in the metropolitan region I currently reside in I have come across about 3 or 4 stories about Natives Americans in the past few years! The local newspaper that is published near the reservation my relatives live on has reports on tribal government, events, ceremonies and celebrations almost every week. Despite the reports and stories being different from region to region it should still not be biased in news reporting. We have a long way to go!

Becky C. said...

You are absolutely right--and no one can honestly deny it--missing white children, particularly girls, and particularly cute ones get all the media attention.

It is obviously a producer/editorial decision. In a pure economic sense they are pandering to their largest demographic constituency--and from that I think we can dismiss all the talk of a post-racial America.

There is really not a compelling mystery in this case--the mother is a lying sack of shit--and is somehow involved in killing or covering up the killing of the girl--but everyone is interested in what brought the good looking young white mother to become so diabolical.

But I have noticed with African-American dirtbags--like the woman who steals a baby (or the one who cut a baby out of a pregnant woman) there is no intrigue, much less interest in what makes her tick.

What a lot of this sensationalism also does is ignores the larger problem--that in the vast majority of cases, the fate of abused children is fairly mundane--it is a parent or other trusted adult--and it is just disgusting, not interesting at all.


Ebony Intuition said...

@ elle

"But when it comes down to it, I think race/ethnicity play a much larger role."

I agree

Erica said...

I really hate the missing white woman stories. They're harmful to everyone. When the media frenzy directs towards a single disappearance, other people disappear, particularly the faces of women of color. The purpose of these stories is to reinforce the narrative of "innocent" white women being abducted. Usually the narrative focuses upon these women being abducted by men of color. As a result, white women are again told that their lives are most threatened by men of color, while white men, those they know and are close to, are those most likely to harm them. We are once again admonished about the dangers of drinking and going out unescorted, lest evil men of color jump at us from the shadows. And black women are disappeared twice, first abducted, and then ignored.

Danny said...

Ebony, we do have Amber alerts. One (sad) telling fact is that a number of people commented about how surprised they were when a not-so-long ago alert was about black, teenaged boys.

Amber Alert for boys? I didn't even know those were issued for boys. But come to think of it missing boys aren't front page material that often. And sadly I have to admit that every Amber Alert I've seen (Im in Eastern North Carolina if you're curious) has been for a young white girl...

Mekhismom said...

This is a great post. Thanks for addressing this issue.

L.A. said...

*sigh* I live in Florida, about 45 mins out of Orlando. Unfortunately, the FOX channel especially seems to want to bring us the drivel of what's happening in this case on an hour by hour basis. I don't mean that to sound harsh but like you, I know there are so many other missing people in this country, and probably 100's if not 1000's alone in Florida.

Caylee is GONE. Her mother waited 30 DAYS! to report her missing. That's why Caycee sits in jail today.

As much as the majority tries to convince us we are no longer racist...we are.

I did happen to live in Charlotte, NC which was so much better at highlighting missing children/people of other ethnic backgrounds.

You'd think Florida, with all it's diversity would do the same.

USpace said...

The media is mostly run by Liberals and Democrats, the party of racism. Child rapists don't deserve the mercy of Death Row and a state execution, they deserve Life in Prison without parole and special protections. This way the other inmates will have many chances to gang-rape the scum every day, and then torture the vermin to death when they are sick of him.
Finally the Supremes got one right with the DC Gun Ban issue. Hopefully, knowing that more homes may have guns, more raping and home-invading monkeys will cease in this behavior or be blown away as they well deserve. The world will be MUCH better with more of this scum dead.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe feels
sorry for child rapists

when they are murdered
in cold blood by other thugs

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
KILL the raping monkeys

even if they prefer death
over life in prison

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
you may not defend yourself

guns are for criminals
just hope police show in time

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
prosecute citizens

when they kill home invaders
threatening their families

absurd thought -
God of the Universe thinks
women shouldn’t carry guns

their attackers and rapists
don’t deserve their brains blown out

Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Child Rapists Deserve Violent Death in Prison
Help Halt Terrorism Today!


Renee said...

@Uspace I understand that you are upset as a parent. I too share your rage at people that rape children, however womanist musings is not the appropriate space for you to advocate the rape of any person regardless of their actions It is also not place for you to advocate for the death of any individual those are violent acts which are never supported here This is meant to be a safe space and such thoughts contradict that. Consider this your one warning

USpace said...

Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed that you would hate sub-human, raping scum and not wish them the ends that they deserve. Evil can not be defeated if it is not hated and reviled to the maximum.

I also wasn't "advocating" anything, I was just saying that's what would justly happen to them if they were given a Life sentence, and that as long as they were guilty I would be very pleased to read of such outcomes.

Renee said...

@USpace it is not a matter of not hating. It is a matter that I personally cannot and will not take a position that advocates rape or violence against any person regardless of their action. Lock them in prison for life yes but violence I cannot support it.

atropabelladonna said...

Considering that most sex offenders were sexually abused as children, I agree with you. Back to the topic, though, racism is institutionalized--black kids aren't valued as white kids, black Barbie dolls are not as valued as the white versions. It is when our government agencies get "infected" with common people rather than people chosen for honor-related and integrity-related reasons that causes this problem, I think. If we paid cops and government workers more and the field was competitive instead of underpaid, wouldn't these problems lessen? Same applies to schools, black kids usually get less attention from teachers than their white peers. What if classrooms weren't overcrowded and teachers were paid a livable wage?

Something that I learned in a psych class was that the best way to change attitudes is through changing behavior. That didn't make very much sense to me at the time, but it makes a lot more sense if taken in the context of social injustices. So what is the best way to change behavior when it comes to this problem of minority children being undervalued? That is the real question.

Delilah said...

I communicate with families of missing persons on a daily basis, and while I agree with your entry 100%, I'm not so sure it is always a racial issue when people go missing unnoticed. Almost 1 million people are reported missing in this country every year according to FBI statistics.

From what I have seen it is a mainstream media issue that perpetuates the sensationalism of one particular case while all of the others go unnoticed. My site has members of all ethnic backgrounds and most of them have similar stories about trying to get their loved ones noticed as much as the ones that the media feels worthy of reporting.

I have been in contact with friends and family members in Miami where a young Hispanic mother has been missing for 15 months. We have blitzed the media and police department and elected officials all the way to the Governor and States Attorney to no avail. Just this week a local paper had the balls to report the story.

The stories go on and on and the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming sometimes because it is so hard to make any headway.

Thank you for this entry because it is hitting the nail on the head for so many families. It crosses all racial and gender lines when a loved one is missing.

mammabear said...

I have heard of Tomisha Ross, Camille Johnson, and Jasmine Kasner, but then I keep track of Black and Missing,But Not Forgotten. The widget sits on the right side on my blog.
I notice that while these 3 are mentioned, Giovanni Gonzalez, a 5 year old little boy who is in similar circumstances as Caylee, was not mentioned on this post. Giovanni came up missing around the same time frame as Caylee.
There are SO many missing children and persons left off of 'The List.' People seem to be biased against because of their race, age, and financial standing. There is also a lack of media attention on how many children are abducted by family. People don't even take this kind of abduction serious.
Yet if you look on NCMEC, the LARGEST group of missing children are runaways...The second largest is family abductions. Stranger Danger (media hype) is one of the smallest groups of missing children.

So, the way I see it, race is not the only factor.
BUT, it IS there. I try to post my work random, so that I include people from every race, age, and financial standing.
Like Delilah, I belong to Peace 4 the Missing.
(It's kind of how I stumbled on this post)
Peace4 has come up with a great idea: Monday 4 the Missing. Every Monday, all bloggers get together and post for the same person.
It's a chance to change what the media is (not)doing. If any bloggers are interested, please check out
It's very we could honestly use a few extra people.
If enough bloggers cover the same person on the same day, it is possible to bring this missing persons case up front, where it belonged to begin with.

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