California lawmaker introduces “Ebony Alert” bill for missing Black children and young women

Studies show that Black children comprise 38% of missing youths nationwide.

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A California Senator has proposed a new bill aimed at alerting the public about missing Black women and children whose cases are disproportionately underreported.

The “Ebony Alert” system, introduced in Senate Bill 673, would circulate urgent information about Black women or young people between the ages of 12 and 25 who have gone missing.

Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who authored the bill, said in a press release that the alert system “would ensure that resources and attention are given so we can bring home missing Black women and Black children in the same way we would search for any missing child and missing person.” 

In this Jan. 15, 2021, file photo, state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, addresses a press conference at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via AP, Pool, File)

Proposed by Bradford on March 23, the bill’s introduction comes at a time when Black children comprise 38% of missing youths nationwide. These children are disproportionately classified as “runaways,” making their cases less likely to be given public attention through Amber or Silver alerts, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.

“When someone who is missing is incorrectly listed as a runaway, they basically vanish a second time. They vanish from the police detectives’ workload. They vanish from the headlines. In many ways, no one even knows they are missing. How can we find someone and bring them home safely when no one is really looking for them,” Bradford said in the press release.

According to data cited by Brittany Lewis, co-founder of Research in Action, over 60,000 Black women are missing nationwide. Experts claim that cases involving missing Black women and girls remain open for four times as long as cases involving white individuals, as theGrio previously reported.

Cases of missing Black Americans also do not receive as much by attention from news outlets, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, which created a database based on roughly 3,600 U.S. media articles that predicts the “press value” of a missing person based upon their social demographics, NPR reported.

The resource, called “Are You Press Worthy?,” projects that young, white women will often be given more media attention when missing compared to their Black, Latino and Indigenous counterparts, per the outlet.

Senate Bill 673 would work to address this aspect of the problem by working directly with news outlets across television, digital, radio and social platforms to publicize Ebony Alerts as urgently as possible, per the press release.

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