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This heartbreaking fact about the #MissingDCGirls should concern all of us.

An alarming number of young black girls are missing in the nation's capital. The whole country should be paying attention.

This heartbreaking fact about the #MissingDCGirls should concern all of us.

You've likely read many stories recently pouring out of Washington about health care, Russia, and Supreme Court justices.

You probably haven't, however, read as many about the staggering number of black girls reported missing in D.C. in the past few months.

It'd make sense if you haven't — there's been virtually no news covering it.


Just this year, D.C. has 22 unsolved cases of missing youths — most of them involving black and Latinx teens — as of March 22, the Associated Press reported.

Fortunately, alarm bells are beginning to ring far beyond the capital, as people ask the same question many neighborhoods in D.C. have been voicing for a while now: Why doesn't anyone care about this?

Image via iStock.

The news, which is finding viral traction online through the hashtag #MissingDCGirls, was further pushed into the spotlight this week when members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to devote resources to the matter.

"Ten children of color went missing in our nation's capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention," CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond wrote. "That's deeply disturbing."

Emotions boiled over at a March 22 town hall meeting, as one girl asked officials through her tears, "Why?"

“We got to get worried about somebody trying to take us and we can’t even live our life without somebody trying to put their hands on us,” she pled into the microphone, an adult comforting her at her side.

The number of young people of color in D.C. vanishing without adequate media coverage is disturbing. But it doesn't quite tell the whole story, according to social justice activist DeRay Mckesson.

“What’s most startling about [the high number of missing black girls] is that this is not a spike," Mckesson explains. "It’s a continued trend.”

D.C. police confirmed Mckesson's assertion. There hasn't been an unusual increase in missing children in Washington in 2017 — what has changed is the police department's new push to publicize information on missing children via social media. Naturally, the move has brought more attention to the issue than in years past.

What's happening in D.C. highlights another disturbing trend happening all over America.

Missing black girls — and missing people of color, in general — are often overlooked by the media.

Research shows that a disproportionately high number of black youths go missing, but news coverage devoted to their disappearances is lacking compared to their white peers, Ebony reported. It's even worse when you look solely at black girls and women.

Why the discrepancy? Throughout our society, whiteness has been deemed normal — the standard — while anything non-white becomes the "other" and is therefore seen as less important. Mckesson explains, “That bias exists in the media as well."

In other words, as activist Shaun King wrote for The Daily News, missing people of color "don't get the Elizabeth Smart or Natalee Holloway treatment."

It's just another way institutionalized racism and implicit bias affects our way of life.

Image via iStock.

The fact so many people are suddenly alarmed by what's happening in D.C. reflects, among other things, the persistent lack of awareness around missing black and brown people, Mckesson says. It also points to how many of us are quick to dismiss the realities of human and sex trafficking here in the U.S. (Although D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reported no evidence linking the missing girls to trafficking, some advocates, including the Black and Missing Foundation, aren't so sure.)

Reversing institutionalized racism in our media is admittedly a daunting task, but you do have the power to make a difference.

Learn more about why missing people of color are marginalized in our media. Speak out if you see this injustice happening in your own community. And make sure to share the names and faces of those who need our help by using platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Shining a light on this problem and helping those in need is the best way to ensure progress, Mckesson says. “There’s no better answer than visibility."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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