January 18, 2012
A renewed campaign to highlight hundreds of missing African-American women has been launched amid ongoing criticism that less attention is given to their cases by authorities and the media.
According to the National Crime Information Center, nearly 40 per cent of those who have disappeared, often in suspicious circumstances, are black. However critics allege that public attention mainly focuses on white women who have vanished.
According to the Black And Missing Foundation, most women disappear in the states of New York, Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland and Florida.
A total of 273,985 minorities were reported missing in the United States (out of 692,944 for all races) as of December 2010.
The foundation has teamed up with a TV network to make a series, Find Our Missing, telling the stories behind the women’s disappearances.
The non-profit organization was formed in 2008 to draw attention to cases and keep pressure on authorities when leads and information dry up.
The Black And Missing Foundation told MailOnline there are a number of reasons as to why the cases of missing black women are largely forgotten.
Firstly, the organisation points out that there is often a lack of diversity in newsrooms meaning the African-American community is not properly reflected in coverage.
Another key reason is that missing persons from a lower economic status are often associated with some sort of criminal activity.
Behind the hundreds of cases are painful details sketched out by families, left wondering what has become of their loved ones. Many women have been missing for decades.
In two incidents at the end of last year, a chilling connection was made between two missing women – 500 miles apart – discovered in part because of the attention charities brought to their cases.
Phoenix Coldon, 23, of St Louis, Missouri, went missing on December 18 while Stacey English, 36, vanished in Atlanta, Georgia on Christmas Day 2011.
The cars of both women were abandoned with the engine running and the keys in the ignition.
In both cases the cars were impounded, a fact that police in both cities did not realize until several days into the investigations.
Miss Coldon’s mother Goldia Coldon said at the time that the fact both women were African-American had not gone unnoticed.
A separate non-profit group, Black And Missing But Not Forgotten had also picked up on the cases.
There were other heartbreaking cases where years have passed without any clues to where the women have gone, leaving anguished families with little hope of closure.
Ashani Karin Creighton, who would now be 19, was last seen by her mother in Orlando, Florida after being initially abducted by her grandparents, Ernest S. Jackson and Kaia Jackson in 1998.
The grandparents were taken into custody in 2000. Miss Creighton is feared dead but what happened to the teenager is still unknown.
In the case of Sharon Davis, now 61, who has been missing for eleven years, she was last seen at 7am on June 13 after being dropped off by her daughter in a Dallas parking lot.
She had said she was going home to change her clothes for a meeting but her van was later found abandoned.
The vehicle had a broken window and was wiped clean of fingerprints.
Her two children alleged that Ms Davis’s husband may know more about her disappearance as she had filed for divorce two days before she was last seen.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black And Missing Foundation, told ABC: ‘When we hear the term ”missing persons”, most people conjure up images of Chandra Levy, Caylee Anthony or Natalee Holloway.
‘As a result, the public is misled in believing that victims of abductions and kidnappings are [all] blonde, blue-eyed and female.’
Ms Wilson added: ‘It is time for all people – regardless of race – to be treated equally in their times of greatest need.’
The Black and Missing Foundation was set up by a former law enforcement officer and public relations experts to support families and raise awareness of those who have disappeared. It also offers tips on personal safety.
A new series, Find Our Missing, begins tonight on the TV One network.
Photo credit: Black and Missing Foundation