If you've scrolled through Instagram or Twitter sometime within the last few days, you've probably spotted the hashtag #MissingDCGirls, which started trending after claims that 14 black and Latina women in the Washington D.C. area went missing within the same 24 hour period. (Naturally, the Internet was alarmed for obvious reasons.)
Can someone explain to me how 14 black girls go missing in 24 hours in DC and it's not a goddamn news story?!? pic.twitter.com/o1WnG3uKUW
— DanielleMoodie-Mills (@DeeTwoCents) March 24, 2017
Thankfully, it's looking like at least (some of) the terrifying information circulating the web was blown out of proportion. Here's what happened: according to NBC Washington, since March 19, D.C. police have tweeted out 20 missing person fliers - 10 of which were for minors. While the police told NBC that the number of missing persons in D.C. has remained relatively steady, their new practice of tweeting missing person fliers in hopes of finding people sooner backfired by causing people to think the number of missing persons had shot up dramatically.
"We've just been posting [the fliers] on social media more often," Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Reid told NBC Washington.
D.C. area police have also said that claims on the Internet, including those posted by celebs like Taraji P. Henson and LL Cool J which stated that 14 girls went missing in one day, were untrue. New York Daily News writer Shaun King, who recently wrote about the issue of the lack of attention given to missing women of color, noted that many of the images used in the viral post were of girls who weren't even from D.C. and have been missing for years.
Dear People Advocating for Missing Black Girls,
Please be sure you are spreading the truth and actual facts. It matters. It really matters
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) March 24, 2017
However, that's not to say that there isn't a problem with the way we treat missing persons of color. 510 minors have been reported missing in the first three months of 2017 in Washington D.C. alone. As Vox points out, children of color go missing far more often that white children, but their cases are given far less news coverage and attention - which is a real problem that deserves far more of our attention than it's received.