Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Where This Non-White Women At?????

No, she is NOT Natalee Holloway's long lost Black cousin.

She is not blond, she is not rich, and her mother so far isn't quite as arrogant when it comes to asking for the help she deserves finding her child. But this young sister, the mother of one no-doubt confused and frightened 7 year old and 5 months pregnantis just as missing as the lamented Ms. Holloway.

Except that she was not last seen on vacation partying her ass off with some guy she'd just met at a bar.

Latoyia Figueroa" is a 24-year old mother-to-be who has been missing for the past 8 days in West Philadelphia. She was last seen this past Monday, when she apparently took time off from work to spend with her unborn baby's father ( you think that might be a clue about who to ask about what might have happened to her????) She has not been seen since.

But other than brief stories in the Philadephia local media the mainstream press has been notably silent. That is, until a commendable DailyKOS blogger whose handle is Richard Cranium shamed CNN by sending a snarky e-mail to Nancy Grace:

Missing Pregnant Mother Alert (Non-White Woman Division)

This appears to have resulted in CNN actually doing something:

CNN Story on Latoyia Figueroa.

As of right now, nobody else in the mainstream media seems to give a shit. (According to Mr. Cranium, who deserves much love for how he handled CNN, if you Googled the name Natalee Holloway you would get 5,600 hits. Before yesterday Latoyia got only two. 10 minutes ago when I started writing this, it was up to a whopping 4.) Even in the local Philadelphia paper that did report the story, today they have a prominent story about a lake being drained in Aruba to look for Natalee but you have to actually search to find the story on their own local missing person, Ms. Figueroa yesterday.

The Latoyia Figueroa story makes clear "Where the White wimmin at" missing persons journalism is racist to its core. Here we have a missing woman falling into that most sacred category of women in the media: mothers-to-be. Yet it took being shamed before CNN -- which might as well rename itself The Natalee Holloway News Channel given how constant their coverage is -- to cover her story. Contrast the lack of attention Latoyia is getting in the media at 5 months pregnant to that which Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking, God rest them both, got from the moment they were first reported missing by the fathers of their unborn children, who'd just happened to have killed them. Within 24 hours, the entire region in which they lived was inundated with news and searches. Because we all know that pregnant women do not just pick up and leave. There was never any doubt in anyone's mind that something had happened to Laci or Lori, because of this bottom line media truth (however stereotypical, but that's a discussion for another time) about heavily pregnant women.

Why would anyone assume any different about Latoyia?

There is a reward fund for information about Latoyia's disappearance that has been set up by All Spin Zone in conjunction with the Philadelphia Citizen's Crime Commission. The reward is presently up to $10,000. Contrast that with how much was set aside for Ms. Holloway's life ($1 million) or Laci Peterson's life ($500,000) and ask yourself why one life is worth 500-1,000 times more than the other.

Make no mistake. I am just as saddened about Natalee Holloway's disappearance as I am Latoyia Figueroa's. I too hope Ms. Holloway is found, since it is not her fault that the media's disproportionate attention to her international disapperance has made her the current Exhibit A in "Where De White Wimmin At?" debate about race and class bias in the media. She was just a child, unsupervised, and got into what ended up being bad circumstances. That is never the victim's fault. But at the same time, it is clear which of these two women mainstream America values more. And that is OUR fault.


At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree. It is a sad day in America when one life is valued more than the other simply based on skin color.


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