It’s nearly impossible to turn on any cable or network news, or log on to any social media platform, without scrambling your hands about the heart-wrenching story of talking heads and amateur true-crime detectives. Gabrielle “Gabby” Petitodisappear and die.
Petito, 22, went missing during a cross-country excursion with her fiancée, 23-year-old Brian Laundry.
As public outrage and breathless media updates continue to grow, Petito has become just that.America’s daughterShe was young, vibrant and had a huge following on social media due to her bubbly personality. She was fair, beautiful and attractive.
And she was white.
We’ve been here before – many times. Tens of thousands of people – black, Latino, Asian, indigenous, LGBTQ, young, old, men and boys – go missing every year. Some return to their families, some remain unaccounted for and unfortunately some die. But very few people get national headlines that seem to be reserved for fair women and white girls.
These names easily come to mind: Lackey Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, Natalie Holloway, JonBenet Ramsey, Chandra Levy. Household names, names are etched in our psyche forever.
What are their names?
According to black and missing foundation, a non-profit organization that raises awareness of missing people of color across the country, last year reported 543,018 persons missing. About 40% of them are people of color.
What are their names?
In Wyoming, where Petito’s body was found, at least 710 indigenous peopleMost women and girls went missing from 2011 to 2020, according to a report by the Wyoming’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force.
Again, what are their names?
There is a clear disparity of news coverage and a systematic bias that has been discussed – and rejected – for decades. I refuse to buy into the belief that now is not the time to re-light it. is now of course Time.
I am often ashamed that I get attached to the “media”, especially in such cases. But since many Americans discriminate in their news sources with little or no discrimination at all, I am compelled to say this: We must do better. Our newsrooms must reflect the color of America, and we must raise reporting standards to look beyond the latest intriguing whodunit.
All Missing people deserve attention
No one is dismissing the circumstances surrounding Petito’s death, and no one is minimizing the pain the Petito family has endured. Like many Americans, I am annoyed, especially what appears in body cam footage For having a major blunder by law enforcement when Petito and Laundry are confronted in Utah.
But acknowledging that wanting justice for Petito is fine.”missing white woman syndrome,” a term coined by the late journalist Gwen Ifill, is also a genuine derision.
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Ultimately, it’s not just about the race – it’s about the people. There are daughters and sons, parents, siblings, friends and neighbors who are missing. They are not all pretty and fair. He does not have a social media following. But their families deserve America’s sympathy and news coverage; His stories are no less important. These people want their loved ones home. They want answers. They deserve to be closed too.