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Is More Attention Finally Being Given to Missing Black Girls?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “…while this nation espouses the valuing of children in general, this does not appear to be the reality as evidenced by the failure to act in the face of the onslaught of mass school shootings from Sandy Hook to Stoneman Douglas where the majority of those killed were middle class white youth,” said Dr. Ronnie A. Dunn, associate professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University. “Therefore, we see less media attention paid to missing children, particularly those of color.”

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Minneapolis police have a located a 12-year-old girl who went missing last week.

Dejah McCondichie had last been seen sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at her home on the 3200 block of 4th Street North. By Sunday afternoon, the police department posted an update with good news: Dejah had been found and is safe.

Greenville, South Carolina Police who went searching for 2-year-old Asaiah Nelson and her 50-year-old grandmother Michelle Matthews, also reported good news: the pair has been found safe.

In Georgia, police said they’ve safely located 14-year-old Anastasia Foxworth who had been missing for more than 24 hours.

Could this series of good news updates mean that the tide is finally turning for black girls who go missing? “It’s a step in the right direction, when you hear that authorities are finally having success, especially with black girls,” said Yvonne Russ, a clinical psychologist. “But, there’s still too many missing and too many have been missing for too long.”

Organizations like Black and Missing But Not Forgotten, the Black and Missing Foundation (BAM) in Landover Hills, Maryland, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in Alexandria, Virginia, have struggled to shed light on the real emergency that is of the nation’s missing.

More than 424,066 girls of all races have gone missing since the beginning of 2018, according to NCMEC. More than half of that total are women and girls of color, according to BAM, which, like NCMEC, rely on statistics from the FBI.

Many said the media hasn’t done enough to shine the spotlight on the crisis of the missing – particularly black girls.

“The majority of these children most likely come from marginalized communities, and are primarily low-income people of color,” said Dr. Ronnie A. Dunn, an interim chief diversity and inclusion officer and associate professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University.

“Given this nation’s racially stratified socioeconomic class hierarchy, as evidenced throughout institutions in America where poor children of color have worst outcomes on all quality of life indicators, their lives are devalued in relation to upper class white youth,” said Dunn, who has authored two books, “Race Profiling: Causes & Consequences,” and “Boycotts, Busing, & Beyond: The History & Implications of School Desegregation in the Urban North.”

“And even within that, while this nation espouses the valuing of children in general, this does not appear to be the reality as evidenced by the failure to act in the face of the onslaught of mass school shootings from Sandy Hook to Stoneman Douglas where the majority of those killed were middle class white youth,” Dunn said.

“Therefore, we see less media attention paid to missing children, particularly those of color,” he said.

Since the beginning of the month, numerous young girls have gone missing.

This week, police said they’re searching for a missing woman from Montgomery County, Maryland.

Officers say 20-year-old Carolyn Janiece Miller was last seen by family on Tuesday, April 9 when she left her Quintana Drive home in the Potomac area.

Police said Carolyn was driving her 2019, red Toyota Corolla with Maryland temporary tag: T889737 when she was last seen.

Carolyn is described by authorities as an African-American female, 5-feet-tall and weighing 160 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. Her family has been unable to contact her since they last saw her leaving her home and are concerned for her welfare.

Anyone with information regarding Carolyn’s whereabouts are asked to call the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

In New Mexico, Albuquerque Police issued a Brittany Alert for 18-year-old Shara Pinder. According to police, Pinder went missing April 11, 2019, at the Albuquerque Transit Center. They said she was trying to catch a bus to the Westside Shelter and left by officers.

According to KRQE Media, police announced that the missing Albuquerque woman has been found.

Naturally, the missing doesn’t only include girls.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Dakota Elliott Kelly was reported missing On Monday, April 15.

Dakota is black, 5’2″ tall, weighs 140 pounds, with brown eyes and short, black hair.

He was last seen wearing dark and light blue Kobe Bryant sneakers, white socks, gray and black Puma sweatpants, a white t-shirt, and black and gray Columbia sweat suit jacket.

Authorities said Dakota may be accompanied by Dallas Elliott Kelly or possibly Gabriel Fleming.

Dallas Kelly is black, 6’3″ tall, weighs 240 pounds, with brown eyes and black, short hair.

He was last seen wearing a red jogging suit, red hat, red sneakers, and has faded tattoos on his arms.

Authorities said they were last seen traveling west from Dakota’s home on Highway 404 toward I-55.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dakota, Dallas, or the vehicle is asked to contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department at (662) 858-0019.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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