It’s become something of a running joke… the differences in how cases in which whites go missing are handled by law enforcers and the media, versus similar cases in which blacks (and other minority groups) are the victims.
– Tambay – Shadow and Act/indiewire.com
Next Wednesday “Find Our Missing” will debut on TV One. S. Epatha Merkerson will host the show, meant to shed light on missing African Americans. The linked article quotes TV One President and CEO, Wonya Lucas who says, “Nearly one-third of the missing in this country are black Americans, while we make up only 12 percent of the population. Yet stories about missing people of color are rarely told in the national media.” I posted this article on Facebook, my dear friend Monica had this to say:
Yep. But it should also be an eye-opener. Remember that case where the little Dominican girl in NYC survived a kidnapping after she escaped through a window in the house where she was being held? On some level, our children know no one is going to rescue them.
But what happens when our kids are too overcome by fear, stubbornness, or too troubled to protect and rescue themselves? When that happens, you get Jakadrien Turner, the fifteen year-old Dallas, Texas resident, who was wrongfully deported to Colombia. Each time I attempted to gain an answer in Jakadrien’s story, I unearthed another question.
Following her parents’ divorce and the death of her grandfather, she ran away from Dallas in November 2010. In April 2011, she was arrested for shoplifting in Houston, and gave a false name, belonging to a 21 year old Colombian woman who was supposedly in the country illegally. She was then held for 52 days and by May 2011, despite speaking no Spanish, she was deported to Colombia.
Jakadrien acted against her own interests. She dogmatically stuck to her story, fooling the criminal court judge, the immigration magistrate, and whoever else she was in close contact with in the 52 days prior to her deportation. I find it hard to believe that no one who spoke to her could determine that she was neither Colombian, nor 21.
So far officials have hidden behind the excuse of this minor, “slipping through the cracks.” Would she have slipped through these cracks were she not a person of color? In plain English, would a 14 year-old white girl who only spoke English, regardless of how troubled, have been deported to a foreign country without concrete evidence? A nagging question I have is the word choice in all of the articles I’ve read, which say she was “given Colombian citizenship.” Was she just randomly shipped to Colombia.
One, it shows me how on the whole, this country does not see our children as children. I look at her pictures, and see the face of a baby – a pregnant baby. Not a 21 year old woman. It also shows how a missing 14 year old girl barely registers in a major city a mere four hours away. She was reported missing. In almost two months, no one recognized her? No one thought there could have been more to her story? No one picked up on the fact that she was clearly troubled?
Certainly the federal government has more resources at hand than Jakadrien’s grandmother, Lorene Turner, who was able to find her on Facebook. And once she was found, the Colombian government was hesitant to send her back, and held her in a detention facility for a month. Tell me with a straight face that a pregnant, 15 year old white girl who had been wrongfully deported to Colombia, would have been forced to wait a month before being reunited with her family. The country would have been in an uproar. How do I know?
In 1994, 18 year old Michael Fay lived in Singapore with his parents. He was arrested for theft and vandalism. These were crimes that he committed. In Singapore, they don’t have a whole lot of time for your crap, and their punishments are quite brutal. He was found guilty and sentenced to six strokes of the cane. I ain’t talking Kappas. Basically, you strip naked and a very strong dude beats the snot out of you with a huge bamboo cane. I knew more than I cared to know about Singaporean caning practices, because it was in the news every night. The country was in an absolute uproar over this guilty teen, who was legally an adult. The outcry was so great that Singapore reduced the cane strokes from six to four. For a guilty man.
Meanwhile, a pregnant 15 year old black girl, wrongfully deported, sat in a Colombian detention facility for a month. Just because, and with barely a whisper.
This story offers more questions and answers, for one simple reason: No one wants to go on record as saying, “We didn’t care enough to look.” Whenever a person hides behind “slipping between the cracks” and due diligence jargon, it means they’ve done the bare minimum. When it comes to our children, we have to take it upon ourselves to advocate and create the village where our children can be safe and looked after. I brim with hope when I see people are beginning to use social media to spearhead this effort. We may never have the ear of mainstream media. I believe that if we work hard enough with the goal of our children’s safety in mind, mainstream media may not be necessary (but will probably get on the bandwagon should it become profitable). No matter what, it’s time to take the legs out from underneath this running joke.