Although African Americans make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 33 percent of the missing in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database. Cases involving African Americans also tend to receive less media coverage than missing Whites, with missing men of color getting even less attention.
NewsOne has partnered with the Black and Missing Foundation and TV One to focus on the crisis of missing African Americans.
To be a part of the solution, NewsOne will profile a missing person weekly and provide tips about how to keep your loved ones safe and what to do if someone goes missing, while TV One‘s newest show, “Find Our Missing,” hosted by award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson, tells these stories in visual form. “Find Our Missing” airs on TV One on Wednesdays.
Whoopi Goldberg looked into the camera Friday and issued a direct appeal for the public to help find Mishell DiAmonde Green. The 16-year-old had been missing since Sept. 8, 2011 after not coming home from an after-school program.
“I got it. I got it,” Goldberg said in taking over from “The View” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
“See this girl, her name is Mishell DiAmonde Green. If you have any information…maybe you saw somebody with her, take a good look. Go into your memory. If you find that you have just the least bit of information, please contact the authorities. It would really be a wonderful thing to reunite this family,” Goldberg said.
Green’s parents had just appeared Friday on a segment of “The View” with Derrica Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation. The foundation is in partnership with NewsOne to help produce “Find Our Missing.”
A few hours later, an anonymous caller contacted the Black and Missing Foundation to report where the girl was and she was reunited with her family. Green was found at Safe Horizon, a shelter for victims of violence in New York City.
“This reunion proves how vital national media coverage is in finding missing persons,” said Wilson. “As an advocate for missing persons of color, it is our mission to help bridge the gap in the disparity of coverage of our missing persons. I thank ‘The View’ for allowing us to share Mishell’s story, and to the tipster who had the courage to call and report it.”
Despite making up only 13 percent of the population, African-Americans make up more than 33 percent of the missing persons cases in the FBI’s database and more than 40 percent of new missing persons cases. There is a glowing disparity in media coverage when it comes to missing people of color.
While some young Caucasian women who go missing such as Natalee Hollaway get international media coverage, African-Americans struggle for local coverage, say advocates such as the Black and Missing Foundation. And when it comes to missing men of color, the disparity is even worse.
“This is such an important cause to Whoopi (Goldberg), and we are grateful to her for bringing it to our attention, to Mishell Green’s family for allowing us to tell their story, and to the Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. for their help and assistance,” said Bill Geddie, executive producer of “The View.”
Green went missing after her mother allowed her to go to an after-school program by herself for the first time.
“This was her first time going out alone where we weren’t going to pick her up, so I trusted her with a set of keys, because I trust her, and a 10 p.m. curfew. You’re 16, you can do this. She said, ‘Ma I promise I’ll be home on time.’ She gave my husband a hug and a kiss and we never saw her again,” said Green’s mother Janell Johnson-Dash on “The View.”
Johnson-Dash, described a situation that many families of color say occurs when they report a loved one missing. Johnson-Dash says her daughter has never run away and was a good student. She says she called police at 10 p.m. but they didn’t arrive at the house until 1 p.m. that evening. And police classified the case as a runaway despite the fact that Johnson-Dash says her daughter has no history of running away. Johnson-Dash claims a detective wasn’t assigned to the case until three days later.
“They told us, ‘Don’t worry about it, this type of stuff happens all the time with teenagers. We’re pretty sure she’ll show up.’ And my immediate response was, ‘You don’t know my baby. This is completely out of character. There’s no way in the world that she would just stay out.’” said Johnson-Dash on “The View.”
Johnson-Dash believes race was definitely an issue in how her daughter’s case was handled, she said.
“I grew up right here next to Lincoln Center which is predominantly Caucasian area. I went to all-white schools. If I would have made this report from my old address next to Lincoln Center versus where I live in the Bronx, it would have been treated totally differently,” said Johnson-Dash.
The Black and Missing Foundation says the New York City Police Department acted swiftly to recover Green after the information came forward. The widespread media attention for this case came five months after Green went missing and a resolution came a few hours later. Timely media attention can make a world of difference said Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation.
“This reunion is an excellent example that media coverage is vital in the recovery of missing persons. That’s what the Black and Missing Foundation has been advocating for– an equal opportunity for all missing persons, regardless of race, to receive the coverage needed for a reunion or closure for their family,” said Wilson.
Johnson-Dash expressed relief that her daughter had been found.
“Mishell is safe and out of harm’s way. We thank all who lifted your hearts and voices in prayer, who posted reports, who told about her disappearance, who called us with suggestions and who were there,” said Johnson-Dash.
“Thank you to ‘The View’ for providing a platform that gave Mishell’s story the media attention needed for her recovery.”