When a missing child case is shown on the news, the face never seems to be that of a young black girl.
In fact, based on news coverage, one might believe that when it comes to kidnapping, human trafficking, and sexual abuse in the U.S, black girls have nothing to worry about. This idea, unfortunately, could not be further from the truth.
Last week, a white man from South Carolina was denied bond during a court hearing after being charged with human trafficking and child sex crimes in April. He is accused of trafficking nearly 700 black women and girls, and yet there has been little to no mainstream news coverage outside of that of local news and black publications.
Arrest warrants show that between July 2017 and July 2019, the man forced four underage girls to perform sex acts in his home, one being as young as 13 years old. Sexual abuse allegations go as far back as 2011 when he was accused of coercing two 13-year-old girls into having sex with him, only for them to later find out that he had infected them with HIV/AIDS.
The man, who goes by “DJ Kid” on Facebook, was apparently specifically targeting young black girls and purposely trying to give them the HIV/AIDS virus. According to a Facebook screenshot, he even bragged about all the black women that he’s exploited, as well as posted dozens of inappropriate photos with them. In one post, he wrote,
“I’m 36 with 693 BODIES (All Black Females), WBU?”
He lures the women in on social media with money, drugs, and alcohol and then takes advantage of them, bribing and blackmailing them.
The lack of media attention for this disturbing story isn’t anything new. Sadly, when it comes to the dangers and threats posed to black girls, the media seems to disappear; but, the truly alarming fact here is that because of the under-reporting of stories like these, black girls are left even more vulnerable, completely unaware of the fact that we are the ones being disproportionately targeted.
I realized that the media and the police took less interest in the abuse and welfare of black girls back in 2017, when over 500 children went missing in Washington, D.C, most of them black and Latino. Despite “missing” flyers with black girls’ faces on them being plastered all over the police department’s FB page, the D.C police department insisted that nothing was out of the ordinary. Officials from the Congressional Black Caucus even had to step in, sending a letter of concern to the Justice Department highlighting the lack of media attention to the issue.
40% of victims of sex-trafficking are African American and that number is even higher in metropolitan areas like D.C and L.A.
In L.A County, the victim rate for African-Americans reaches an astounding 92%. That number is absolutely insane, so why on Earth isn’t anyone talking about it? It’s a number that should be cause for extreme concern at the very least, if not complete outrage. Imagine if it were white girls in L.A going missing at that rate — it’d be cause for a national emergency. But black girls are disappearing without anyone batting an eyelash. And that’s exactly why we’re so vulnerable — because no one seems to care.
When it comes to sex trafficking and sex crimes, police, as well as the media, are less likely to view black girls as victims. Instead, we’re seen as the culprits.
59% of all juvenile prostitution arrests involve African-Americans. Yes, that’s right: juveniles. As in children. We’re viewed as sexually promiscuous and our innocence is stripped away while we are still children, all while being taken advantage of. Black girls are rarely even given the benefit of the doubt. And what’s worse is that this dismissal of a major issue for black girls in the U.S isn’t just coming from law enforcement and the media, sometimes, it comes from our own community.
R. Kelly has had sexual allegations involving minors against him for years, but because the minors were black, it was ignored and brushed under the rug. It took a multi-part documentary series in 2019 filled with testimonies and visual proof for people to finally take this phenomenon seriously.
But even then, R. Kelly fans and non-fans alike were still diminishing the magnitude of the issue, blaming the underage girls for being too promiscuous, claiming that they were all having sex with him because they simply wanted to. Black girls are often blamed for our own abuse and it only furthers our vulnerability for these kinds of abuses, increasing our chances of becoming victims.
When it comes to protecting our black girls in this country, we are failing. The institutions that are meant to protect us are failing, the outlets we expect to inform us are failing, and even our own communities are failing to truly see us as the ones who need saving in these instances. These girls may be teenagers, but they are far from grown and until this issue is met with more visibility, understanding, and action, we will continue to be the targets.
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Jasmine Hardy is a writer based in California who is *slightly* obsessed with all things culture and entertainment. She spends an absurd amount of time watching tv shows, but justifies it with the fact that she decides to be productive and write about them. She also got to interview Laverne Cox once (subtle flex). You can read more random and equally cool facts about her on her website jasmine-hardy.com.