All Voices Matter: the disparity among missing people


Provided by Sydney Bishop

In her revival of the weekly column, All Voices Matter, staff reporter Sydney Bishop offers her take on various social and cultural issues.

There is a great disparity between missing Black people and missing White people. A total of approximately 182,548 Black people went missing in the United States in 2020, making up for around 33.6% of missing persons nationwide. Considering Black people only make up around 12.4% of the current-day US population, the rate at which they go missing is disproportionate.

This is not the only issue that requires our societal attention, the underrepresentation of POC’s missing cases in the media, which make up around 40% of all missing cases, is an increasingly pressing problem that needs to be addressed. It’s way too often that White missing persons are prioritized over missing POC and are consequently found faster and much likelier to be safe.

Not only does the lack of media coverage these cases receive decrease the chances of these people being found safely, it increases the risk of these investigations being covered up or mishandled by corrupted parties. 

An example of this happening is in the case of Jelani Day, where his mother criticized the investigators for his disappearance, advocating that they didn’t put forth the proper amount of effort or attention compared to cases like that of Gabby Petito, a White woman. Jelani’s body was found a month after his disappearance with several missing organs, and still, his story barely makes headlines. Most of the recognition the case received was from the advocacy of his family and other pro-Black activists.

This devastating reality has gone on for much too long in this country. 

At the rate Black people are disappearing, it makes no sense at all that they barely receive media coverage. I can’t help but wonder how many Black women, men, and children could’ve been reunited with their families if society had only cared enough. Awareness must be raised now, and Black missing voices must be heard, because all voices matter.