Photo: Family/Talitha Russell

As the Carlee Russell abduction turned out to be a hoax, it’s time to talk about the missing black women. An exception cannot be an example, as this case proves. A black woman faking her abduction must not sway our attention from a genuine issue of kidnapping of black women in the United States.

Before we discuss the pressing issue of missing black women, let’s look at the Carlee case in detail.

The Carlee Abduction Hoax 

Carlee Russell had called 911 on July 13th to inform them about a toddler alongside an interstate before she was abducted. She went missing for 49 hours but later revealed that all of it was a hoax.

The police later held a press conference revealing that they received a letter from Carlee’s attorney, telling them there was no truth in the abduction story. Moreover, the letter said nobody assisted her in the hoax, and she apologized to her family, the community, and the police for her act. However, the police say the investigations will continue to learn where Carlee was during those 49 hours. 

Criminal Charges Against Carlee 

Carlee has now been charged with falsely reporting to law enforcement and falsely reporting an incident. However, she has availed a bail for her release, according to the Hoover Police Chief, Nick Derzis. Both charges can result in a one-year jail term and up to $6,000 in fines.

No charges have been pressed against her family or other individuals. However, more charges might be pressed against Carlee as the investigations continue. It is also important to note that many people want more charges against her.

The Plight of Missing Black Women 

Despite what Carlee did, we shouldn’t overlook the heinous issue of missing black women staring us in the eyes. Just a week before Carlee’s hoax gripped the nation, a 15-year-old girl named Janiya Duffie went missing and still hasn’t been found. Let’s also discuss Latasha Coleman, who went missing in Mississippi a day before Janiya’s disappearance.

Harrowing Statistics 

According to reliable statistics, a total of 98,000 black women have gone missing. Black women constitute just 7% of the total US population, but 18% of the abductees. According to the Black and Missing Corporation, the total number of missing people of color in the United States is 214,582.

What to do About the Issue? 

Historically, the abductions of black girls haven’t been taken as seriously as those of girls from other ethnicities, a phenomenon called Missing White Woman Syndrome. One solution that can prove to be quite effective for this problem is the new tracking system being used by the Kansas City Police Department.

However, the black community is coming up with innovative solutions too. For instance, Ryan Sorrell of the Kansas City Defenders has created a missing person database with a capable team of software engineers.

Similarly, a black community leader named Bishop Tony Caldwell is crafting a missing person database by teaming up with a Dignity Center Coalition. It will include information about missing people, as well as about unhoused individuals. The database will be shared with different agencies, shelters, churches, etc.

If the government doesn’t step in, people must start working on the problem themselves. That’s exactly what’s happening in this case, and it’ll likely bear some positive results too.

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Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the 2020, 2021 & 2023 Dateline award for Excellence in Local Journalism.

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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