In contrast with the Irwin case, little seems to be known about these girls’ mothers, fathers, or home life, other than Jhessye’s siblings having been taken into protective custody. I haven’t seen any press conferences or national media pleas for their safe return. Where pages upon pages of news come up for Lisa Irwin in Google, I find two items each for Jhessye and Michiko.
The issue of turned heads ignoring missing black girls isn’t new. Just earlier this year, news outlets caught heat for not covering the case of Phylicia Barnes in favor or Hailey Dunn, and there have been countless other examples. It’s sort of amazing, for lack of a better word, that news stations can be so blatant in their disproportionate coverage of missing black girls. You’d think at some point they’d worry that we’d be on to them, and criticize them, and call them out for their unfair practices, but in all truth they don’t have to answer to us. They can explain away the newsworthiness of the Irwin story in favor of the other two, they can say there aren’t enough facts in the other cases to warrant more coverage. (Perhaps if local precincts cared about the missing African-American girls there would be more facts, but that’s another issue altogether.)
Nevertheless, here we are again with little black girls who are lost and no one who cares except for their grieving families and a handful of people who happen to come across their stories while searching for another piece of news. There has to be a way to force the media to be accountable to us. The black community is a part of the public that they are supposed to serve, and when it comes to missing black girls, they are missing the mark. The only question is, what will it take to get them to listen?