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?