Does Anybody Care That Amir Jennings Is Still Missing?
Despite detectives’ pleas to national media, the disappearance of an 18-month-old black boy with the wide smile has yet to grab the widespread attention given to other missing children’s cases. Some advocates say the reason why may be as simple as the toddler’s gender – and his race.
From the still-unsolved slaying of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey more than 15 years ago to the disappearance and killing of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, the public has watched with rapt attention as many cases involving young children unfolded, often over many months. Yet Amir Jennings, the little boy who hasn’t been seen since he was captured on surveillance video with his mother in South Carolina nearly a year ago, has registered as scarcely a blip on the nation’s consciousness.
“Media has always leaned toward the cute little kids,” said Monica Caison of the Wilmington, N.C.-based CUE Center for Missing Persons. “And unfortunately, a lot of times they think cute little kids are white.”
Amir’s mother, Zinah Jennings, was convicted Friday on a charge related to his disappearance and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The 23-year-old woman has been jailed since December, and police arrested her after she told them false, misleading stories about the boy’s whereabouts. Jennings has maintained that she left the boy somewhere safe, but prosecution witnesses said the young mother claimed she was stressed and pondered selling or giving away the boy.
Jennings’ mother says she last saw her wide-eyed, giggly grandson early on the morning of Nov. 28, 2011. He went to a bank with his mother the next day but has not been seen since. A store owner has testified she saw the boy and his mother a month later, but prosecutors challenged that assertion, and there was no surveillance video to back up the claim.
In the months since he disappeared, Amir’s grandmother has celebrated his second birthday. His mother has given birth to a second child. And the national spotlight that initially shone on the case has waned.
Read more on how Amir’s race and gender are playing a role in the missing news coverage on BlackVoices.com.
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