October 10, 2023
On Monday (Oct. 9), California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 673, inaugurating the Ebony Alert system aimed at locating missing Black children and women. The new protocol mirrors the existing Amber Alert system and is slated to become law on Jan. 1.
“This is a great first step to mitigating the racial inequities when it comes to Black women and children when they go missing,” said Rick L. Callender, president of the NAACP California Hawaii State Conference.
State Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, who authored the bill, asserted, “California is taking bold and needed action to locate missing Black children and Black women.” He emphasized the “heartbreaking and painful” disparity that leaves African American youths and women disproportionately represented among missing persons.
Triggered by local law enforcement, the alert will prompt the California Highway Patrol to display information on highway electronic signs. It will also work to disseminate the notification across media platforms. Bradford hopes the new mechanism will actively motivate media outlets to publicize lost adolescents and women of color.
The Black and Missing Foundation reported that nearly four in 10 disappeared juveniles in the U.S. are African American. Similarly, around the same proportion of sex trafficking victims are Black women. The organization also noted a frequent misclassification of missing Black youth as “runaways,” denying them crucial media coverage and Amber Alert notifications compared to their white counterparts.
“The Ebony Alert can change this,” Bradford said. He believes the law will ensure that “vital resources and information are given so we can bring home missing Black children and women in the same way we search for any missing child and missing person.”
During the latest episode of “REVOLT Black News Weekly,” anchor Mara S. Campo spoke to a number of guests about spotlighting the issue and finding solutions. Among those that she had a conversation with were VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Alexis Skyy, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women activist Melanie Thompson, and Toni Jacobs.
Photo credit: REVOLT