As of January 2023, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) reported 97,127 total active missing person cases in the United States (“2022 NCIC Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics”). Amongst these cases, Black people account for 31.2%, but comprise 13.6% of the population. Similarly, American Indian, and Alaskan Native people make up 2.4% of cases yet encompass an estimated 1.3% of the national population, not counting those who identify as being of two or more races, or Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander (“QuickFacts: United States”). This disparity in the number of missing person cases arises from prevalent stereotypical portrayals of these communities, coupled with the inadequate reporting of their disappearances. This combination contributes to damaging media portrayals, elevating the vulnerability of Black and Indigenous individuals. Consequently, perpetrators may then find opportunities to exploit these circumstances, resulting in an unfortunate increase in missing person incidents. As a result, the families of these missing individuals face challenges in obtaining media attention that goes beyond mere public awareness, encompassing genuine empathy. In my paper, I present four case studies to highlight the primary factors exacerbating the underreporting of Black and Indigenous missing people and explore how issues with classification, policymaking, and reporting may have led to this disparity in an effort to provide concrete solutions that can protect marginalized communities and solve their missing person cases.
Martin, Camille M.
"A New Epidemic: Missing Black and Indigenous People and Their Portrayal in Media,"
Locus: The Seton Hall Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 6, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarship.shu.edu/locus/vol6/iss1/7