JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Thousands of people are reported missing every year in the United States. According to Census.gov, nearly 40% of those who are missing are people of color.
Leaders with the Black and Missing Foundation said there are racial disparities between white and minority victims.
Tamika Huston vanished from Derrica Wilson’s hometown of Spartanburg in 2004. Even though Huston’s aunt worked in media relations, she couldn’t gather the national attention needed for her disappearance.
“A year later, Natalee Holloway disappeared, and we all know Natalee Holloway’s name,” said Wilson.
Huston was later found dead. Police said she had been killed. Her death inspired Wilson to take action. Along with her sister-in-law, Wilson started the organization Black and Missing in 2008.
“We said, ‘Why not us?’ We have the critical experience and professions needed to help us find us.”
Wilson said when families come to their organization, they are often their last hope. They’ll work with law enforcement and the media to get the stories out there. They also create missing fliers.
“We all know the names of Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy, Caylee Anthony, Elizabeth Smart, Gabby Petito, but no one knows the name of Julius Jones out of Mississippi; Myra Lewis, Asia Martin, Lester Jones Jr…The list goes on.”
Wilson continued, “When you look at law enforcement, often times children in the Black and brown community are labeled as runaways.”
She said when it comes to missing adults in the Black and brown community, they’re associated with crime. Wilson said they’re often dehumanized, and it’s a narrative that needs to change.
On November 23, Wilson will be part of an HBO series called “Black and Missing,” which will highlight missing persons cases and the organization.