AMERICA’S OBSESSION WITH DAMSELS IN DISTRESS

Remember the case of Bethany Storro? The nutcase woman who threw acid into her own face, yet told Vancouver police that a black woman committed the act while passing her in the street in August of this year.

How about Susan Smith? Back in 1994, this special case, mother of two, buckled her boys down in the back seat of her vehicle and sent the car rolling into a nearby lake. She then went to the police and reported that a black man carjacked her car while children were inside. It was soon revealed that Susan killed her children to be in a relationship with a man who didn’t want any kids. Oh, and giving custody over to her ex husband I guess wasn’t an option for poor Susan.

Both cases were high profiled, made national news and earned Storro and Smith’s America’s sympathy.

And in both cases, both women were white and a black person was the scapegoat.

Here’s food for thought, why is it that the cases of Chaundra Levy, Natalee Holloway and Laci Peterson, all white, received so much media attention, yet the cases of Mitrice Richardson, Romona Moore and Latoyia Figueroa, all women of color, did not?


Oh and how could I forget about the runaway bride? You know, the chick who ran off without notifying anyone just days before her wedding and whose story DOMINATED the media outlets. By the way, she was later found safe and unharmed. She just needed time alone.

**Cue the violins**

While there were true tragedies and true victims in some of these cases, I know I am not alone when I say…..

ENOUGH!!

What’s up with the media bias? If we are going to designate an entire Nancy Grace show to Laci Peterson, let’s designate the next episode to LaToyia Figueroa, who was also pregnant and disappeared the same time as Laci.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the media-and-America, LOVVVVVEEE a damsel in distress story. Not any ole damsel in distress story though. It must have the following criteria:

  • Young, white female
  • Preferably blond, but brunettes and red heads are acceptable
  • Belong to an affluent or middle –class family
  • Black perpetrators are a plus!

It amazes me how American media become so engulfed in these stories of missing or distressed white women. It’s as if the Earth stops rotating on its axis until they are found. However, what is more frustrating is that for every one missing white woman whose case stays in the media for months on end, there’s probably hundreds of cases where black women have gone missing, yet their stories fail to make the headlines.

I get it though, these stories of missing white women, “damsels in distress,” as they have been called, are what make the headlines-which sell the papers and garners more viewership. Without question, racism and classism plays a significant role. I get that white women are deemed “America’s Sweethearts” and this country has a history of “protecting” them *side-eye.*  America definitely has a sore spot for white women and whatever the case may be, there’s instant sympathy and instant interest.

In contrast, the opposite can be said for women of color, particularly black women, so I get why a news reporter in an attempt to sell papers would rather report on Natalee Holloway than Mitrice Richardson. In fact, few people knew that Laci Peterson was half Latina-a fact that was probably kept out of the news since the case had already peaked America’s interest.

Nevertheless, should this justify the media’s complete disregard for all disappearances of women of color though? Furthermore, should we hold black media outlets more accountable for their lack of coverage and/or lack of persistance following the cases of  missing black women? Should we demand that they step up to the plate as well or will we sit by idly while they continue discussing why we are single?

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