October 9, 2023
There is an epidemic of missing Black women and girls, and the latest episode of “REVOLT Black News Weekly” attempted to get to the bottom of it. The special episode covered an important panel called “Dangerous Black girl magic: Now you see her, now you don’t,” which was held during REVOLT WORLD and hosted by global news anchor Mara S. Campo. Speaking to survivors and activists, “RBN” sought to not only spotlight the issue but try to offer up solutions as well.
Many people became more keenly aware of the problem after the Carlee Russell case gripped the nation. The young Black woman was said to have been kidnapped after trying to assist a toddler she allegedly spotted walking on the side of a road. Finally, a Black woman going missing got the media attention it deserved. Unfortunately, her story turned out to be a lie.
However, that one case does not negate the reality that the issue of missing Black women has become routine with many never being found. What the mainstream media does always seem to find energy for is white women and girls. “This isn’t saying that Gabby Petito is not important,” Campo once told CNN of the 22-year-old missing white woman who was tragically found deceased in 2021. “What it is saying is that there is an overrepresentation in media when white women go missing and an underrepresentation in media when Black, brown and Indigenous women go missing.”
It’s the thousands upon thousands of unaccounted for women of color who so badly need the media attention, too. In 2022, almost 100,000 Black women and girls reportedly vanished without a trace. And just like the media, the police also do not seem to take these cases and the numbers tied to them seriously. Some of the consequences of that neglect include Black women making up 40 percent of sex trafficking survivors, despite being just 14 percent of the overall female population. But the most egregious example may be serial killer Samuel Little, who murdered 93 people and surely got away with it for so long because his victims were mostly Black and brown women.
Where are these women? Who took them? And how do we get them home? “RBN” asked these questions during the panel. The first guest was VH1 “Love & Hip Hop” star Alexis Skyy, who recently revealed she was a sex trafficking survivor. Skyy recalled that she was a teen runaway and was set up by someone she believed was a friend. Instead of becoming a waitress, as she thought was the plan, she ended up being held and abused in a house full of women. Skyy detailed having her belongings taken away, going to a club the first night and being sold off, leading to her being raped. “This was my life everyday,” said Skyy. “I think it was any woman’s biggest nightmare. Just being held against your will and having to do things with older men, and I wasn’t even developed yet.”
Skyy vividly described how she was essentially getting pimped out and became her abuser’s “No. 1 girl” because of her young age. She was manipulated and out of contact with the world and her family for two months before she was able to escape. Via a small miracle, a client saw she was underage and in distress, then hired her and took her to a bus station — ending the physical abuse.
Other panelists included Melanie Thompson, an activist with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and survivor with a chilling story of her own, as well as Derrica and Natalie Wilson, both co-founders of the Black and Missing Foundation. The Wilsons were candid about the layers of the causes of this crisis. They include law enforcement not treating runaways as serious cases and having to wait 24 hours to declare someone missing, despite the early moments being the most important times in finding someone. Even the tag “runaway” comes with the misconception that whatever happens is the child’s fault since they decided to leave. Then there’s the issue of class and racism playing a role with these cases going under the radar because the victims are not blonde and blue-eyed.
This was a heavy, sometimes infuriating, but important episode. Another participant of the panel was Toni Jacobs, whose 21-year-old daughter Keeshae Jacobs was heading to a friend’s house in 2016 when she last saw her. Toni told a harrowing tale of practically begging the police to do something about her missing daughter. “REVOLT Black News Weekly” is committed to highlighting these stories with hopes of bringing home as many missing people as possible. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a story that needs media attention or a lead that can bring someone home.
Photo credit: REVOLT / LaylaBird via Getty Images