Double-digit numbers of young black and Latinx girls in the nation’s capital are missing and, as expected, there has yet to be a national outcry. Instead, within the past week, Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and other social media outlets are now focused on emphatically underscoring the message that social media distorted the stories and numbers of those missing.
The effort to find a handful of missing teenagers is being used to illustrate how a community is supposedly lying. But what’s still abundantly clear is that young black girls are missing, and many don’t care. The lack of rage over these young girls reveals a troubling truth: Missing girls are oftentimes immediately thought of as “runaways” who are not being harmed by systems of exploitation and victimization.
This mindset allows black girls to experience harm and trauma, while the assumption that girls are runaways puts the blame on caregivers, removes the government’s role and implies that these girls got what they deserved for being “fast”—stereotypes of oftentimes physically, emotionally and psychologically abused girls.
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