“What happened to the girls around here?”
“Don’t know. That’s the problem.”
“Anybody think anything? Like maybe drugs?”
“So far, they’ve found three bodies. Two still missing...”
On the surface, this was a story about a summertime love between two individuals who were never really meant to cross paths. The story has a “feel good” vibe and brings nostalgia to those who were brought up and “made” in that era. And even if you weren’t, Takerra Allen did a phenomenal job of painting a picture of the time in every girl’s life when she’s approaching womanhood. In the midst of that, however, there was an overarching topic that really resonated with me.
Tammy. Ashley. The other unnamed missing black girls that the cops did not seem to care enough about to truly locate and determine what and why they kept going missing. This was all too reflective of our reality in the U.S.
Perhaps el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz said is best:
Here are the facts:
· In 2019, there was an estimated 64,000-75,000 missing Black women and girls.
· Over 40% of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are Black girls
· 60% of Black girls are sexually assaulted before 18.
Why is this important?
These stats prove that Black women in America have been, like Malcom X said, unprotected and neglected. The definition of neglect is “failing to care for properly”. When a child is neglected, what is our first instinct? To get that child the care it needs. We either take on that responsibility ourselves, or we call someone who can take on that responsibility. What happens when that child remains neglected without getting help? Stunted brain development, which often times leads to psychological problems, like mental health disorders and low self-esteem. These disorders often times lead to risky behaviors, like substance abuse if left untreated. The same theory is applicable to adults.
We live in a society where we have to be afraid to do something as simple as walk down the street alone. It’s like we’re in a constant heightened mental state, which is the EXACT definition of anxiety. Black women experience anxiety at a rate 10% higher than their white counterparts. But unfortunately, where we’d normally get a neglected child help, neglected black women rarely get the help they need. Research shows that historically, black women avoid therapy due to the stigma of not being able to handle all of what life throws at them. Much like a child, untreated anxiety can manifest in many different ways. Many of the physical disorders that are common in the Black community including heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer, can be caused by untreated anxiety.
Black women, we have to care enough about ourselves to seek help when we need it. That is you ammo. Contrary to popular belief, THAT is what makes you a strong black woman. Representation is more than important. A therapist who is a Black woman can relate and empathize with you in ways that therapists of other races and ethnicities may not. If you’re in need of a Black therapist, check this website out. https://therapyforblackgirls.com/
If you’re a Black woman who is not suffering from any type of mental health challenge, reach out to a Black sister who may be. Get involved with an organization that gives back to our community. This is so important because the ugly truth is that we are truly all we got. If you’d like to get involved with finding our missing black girls, start here.