Another black woman has gone missing and, as usual, the case is receiving very little media coverage despite the unusual circumstances surrounding the woman’s disappearance.
Mitrice Richardson, 24, was reportedly intoxicated and unable to pay her $89 bill at Geoffrey’s restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on Thursday, 17 September. Around 10 PM deputies arrested Richardson and took her to the Malibu-Lost Hills station, where they booked her on suspicion of not paying for the meal and possession of marijuana (sheriff’s deputies found less than an ounce of marijuana in her car, which was later impounded). She was released about 1:25 AM the next day and was never seen again.
Those are about the only details of this case that everyone seems to agree upon. The police say that Mitrice was released after exhibiting no signs of intoxication or mental illness; her parents say that witnesses at the restaurant believed Mitrice was in no condition to drive. Richardson was released without identification, money or transportation, despite the fact that her mother said that she would be coming to the jail to pick her daughter up.
The sheriff’s deputies stated that Mitrice is an adult and they were under no obligation to “babysit” her. I would challenge that by saying, no, they were not under any obligation to babysit her but as police officers, they were obligated to protect her. Isn’t that the responsibility of the police, “to protect and serve”? Jasmyne A. Cannick also shifts the responsibility to the police by writing that they showed “complete disregard for [Mitrice’s] safety and personal well-being.” Therefore, they failed in their primary civic duty.
When I saw this story on the Today Show, I got that same feeling I get every time I see a story of a missing woman of color – this story is dead. We’ll see it once or twice but the story is essentially dead. Why? Because the story doesn’t feature a young white woman, it lacks the identifier from middle America, the that-could-be-my-daughter-sister-wife-mother-friend thing that draws the news cameras. It’s not the ratings grabber of a Laci Peterson or a Natalee Holloway.
Average Bro asks if the main stream media or ethnically focused channels are to blame for the lack of coverage of missing person’s cases like Mitrice’s. I think all of them are shirking their duties. Both the main stream media and traditionally ethnic outlets bare some responsibility. Their job is to cover the news regardless of the race, sex, religious beliefs, etc of those involved. That being said, some of the responsibility for the lack of media coverage also lies with the minority communities themselves.
We as a whole don’t hold those in position to make a change accountable. I know that BET and, for all intents and purposes, TV One and its subsidiaries are no longer black owned but, theoretically, they are supposed to be catering to the needs of the black community. Therefore, we should demand that they provide us with the news that the main stream media isn’t producing. Instead it has been left up to bloggers and online news agencies to keep this story and others like it going. These women are cared for by someone and they deserve to be found.
Even though I’m mostly focused on the case of Mitrice Richardson, I know that there are thousands of women, men and children of color who do not get the media attention they deserve and this needs to change.