Justice Page, Missing Since: Feb. 18, 2013When you think of famous missing persons cases in America, what pops into your mind? If you’re like me, probably Natalee Holloway, Caylee Anthony, Laci Peterson, or Jaycee Dugard -- four people whose terrible stories all have different endings, but who share one thing in common: the color of their skin. But have you ever heard of Tamika Huston, a 24-year-old African American woman who disappeared from her apartment in 2004, or 14-year-old Justice Page (pictured here), missing from her home in Silver Spring, Maryland since mid-February of this year?
Probably not -- and that’s exactly what motivated Derrica and Natalie Wilson, two moms and sisters-in-law, to start the Black and Missing Foundation, a non-profit geared toward helping minority families find their missing loved ones.
The story on the inspiration behind the Wilson sisters' mission left me both frustrated and inspired -- what an eye-opening read! Derrica Wilson, who’s from the same town in South Carolina as Huston, was devastated to see how difficult it was for Huston’s family to get the media’s attention over their missing girl. "It was painful watching them struggle for any kind of media coverage -- local or national," Wilson said. "This could have been one of my family members." Heartbreaking.
A year later, Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, and you know the story -- we’re STILL talking about it. So, Wilson, a longtime cop who currently works as an investigator for a D.C. agency, teamed up with her sister-in-law Natalie Wilson, a PR expert, to launch the non-profit that has so far helped locate more than 113 missing people -- 71 of them alive.
How incredible is that? These are just two "regular" women, both of whom have their own families and full-time jobs. They donate their time, energy, and own money to making a difference in the world, helping to right a terrible injustice, and reuniting missing people with their families, or -- sadly but importantly, helping them find closure and answers. In a recent interview with Ebony.com, Derrica says that she and Natalie are "mothers first," and that she is often haunted by the stories they come into contact with, especially the missing children.
Currently, Black and Missing Foundation has 2,000 open cases they’re working on. A drop in the bucket, but what a powerful drop. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Department of Justice, 2,000 children are reported missing in America EVERY SINGLE DAY. And the Wilson sisters’ foundation reports that of the 661,593 people reported missing last year, about 40 percent of those were minorities.
That’s a horrifying number of people, amounting to a whole lot of scared, heartbroken family members. Of course, every missing persons case can’t make headline news (unfortunately). But there’s something really wrong when the ONLY ones who do make the news are white.
I can’t even imagine the horror of my child going missing, or my sister, or anyone I love -- but how much more awful it would be if no one would pay attention to my plight, or help me, because my loss wasn't perceived to be as newsworthy. These women are my heroes.
Can you think of any high profile cases of missing minorities? Why do you think these cases get so little attention?
Image via Black and Missing Foundation