By Ariama C. Long
Throughout New York, Black women and young girls go missing every day. Some have never been found. According to the Black And Missing Foundation (BAMFI) database, there are 26 open cases of Black women and girls.
“That’s evidence of how serious this is and how young Black girls’ lives just don’t mean anything to society,” said Stephanie McGraw, founder and CEO of W.A.R.M. “I’m just really saddened and angry. We can’t fix what we can’t see and if we can’t call it for what it is, how are we going to start eradicating or deal with it.”
The earliest missing person case is of Ethel Atwell abducted outside her job on Staten Island in 1978. She’d be 90 today.
The youngest person on the missing list is Selah Lee Davis, who was taken when she was four months old in February 2008. The baby was last seen with her mother and brother in a vehicle heading to Rochester from the Bronx. Their vehicle was found abandoned in Rochester and the family has not been seen or heard from since. Davis would be 15 today.
One of the more recent cases is that of 19-year-old Marshae Ivey, a young mom who went missing in May 2021 in Rochester, N.Y. near the northeast neighborhood. She was wearing a black hoodie with pink leggings and had a flower tattoo on her chest.
“The number of missing persons is fluid as investigations are active and constantly change,” commented a DCPI spokesperson about the status of missing persons.
Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the BAMFI nonprofit, said that disproportionate media coverage of missing Black and brown girls, and people of color, has improved incrementally but there is plenty of work to be done.
Wilson said there seems to be an uptick in cases in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Baltimore and in rural areas like North and South Carolina and the midwest. Sex trafficking, domestic violence and abuse, mental health conditions that worsened during the pandemic, and kidnapping are among the several reasons people go missing.