You know about Jon and Kate right? He took the money, the show is going to be named with just her — oh wait, maybe not.
You know about the balloon boy, right? It was a hoax, it wasn’t a hoax, it was a hoax. His family was on Wife Swap and three times this year a 9-1-1 call has been made from their home. And he vomited on television today — twice.
You know Rush Limbaugh, right? Can you even BELIEVE the injustice that he cannot buy into an NFL team?
You know all these things. I know all these things. An absurd amount of media attention has been thrown at these things. Websites, television shows, Extra, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN. Blogs. Message boards. Magazines. Newspapers. We know these things inside and out. But you know what I don’t really know a thing about? Mitrice Richardson.
Mitrice Richardson is a 24-year-old woman from California. She’s black. She’s stunning. She’s reportedly very smart and also mentally disturbed on some level, though I am not sure what that level is, ie, depression, bi-polar disorder, etc. And she’s been missing for a full month.
I know of this story not because of the media attention that it was given. Because unless I lived in Los Angeles County, which I don’t, the story is almost completely unknown. No. The reason I know of this story is thanks to fellow blogger Joni Hudson-Reynolds. A blogger told me about Mitrice. Not Katie Couric or Rachel Maddow or GleN Beck. I found out on a blog.
Here is Mitrice:
These two photos are taken from a website put up to help aid the search for Mitrice, and yes, that first shot is a mug shot. Here’s why Mitrice had to pose for a mug shot:
On Sept. 16, Mitrice Richardson was arrested in Malibu for not paying an $89 tab at a restaurant. While she was detained, the police searched her car and allegedly found some pot. So they impounded her car and took her to the police station. Then, around 1 a.m. on Sept. 17, Mitrice, clad in a t-shirt and jeans and with no phone, no id, no car and no money, was released. She walked out of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station at 1:25 a.m. into the chilly night air, five hours before the next available bus service came online in the area. Mitrice was never seen again.
Anne Sobel of Malibu Surfside News wrote this week:
At Saturday’s rally, Richardson’s father Michael also expressed the view that his daughter is alive, but may be unwilling to make her whereabouts known.
Speaking directly to his daughter, he said, “You may be scared, but you did nothing wrong. When you come back, we can fix this situation.”
Addressing people the missing woman “may be confiding in,” the father told them, “You’re doing more harm than good.” He said he knows people want to help her and described his daughter’s charismatic personality with “Mitrice could make the devil turn the heat down in hell.”
But there is still concern that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which took her into custody and is still taking part of the search under the lead of the LAPD because Richardson is a Los Angeles resident, did not move quickly enough when she was reported missing.
Her father said the first week “was detectives in nice suits and reptile shoes talking to a few people.” He said it was 10 days before a major search involving 200 personnel and volunteers combed the rugged terrain of Calabasas and Malibu near Lost Hills.
Michael Richardson said the LASD exhibited “carelessness and irresponsibility” and deputies displayed “cockiness and arrogance.” He called for an outside investigation of the agency, saying the current in-house review that has been requested by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors doesn’t go far enough.
Although the family publicly downplays the issue of whether race might have been a factor in the handling of the case, some of Mitrice Richardson friends privately say they think otherwise.
Mitrice’s family and friends and the police investigating the incident are all at a loss. No one knows that the hell happened, or really, where to even start. And it’s been a month.
I refer back to the title of this post. “Where is Mitrice?” I chose this title because it has a dual meaning. Where is she literally, physically? And where is she on my TV? In my newspaper? On the news websites I regularly read? Why do I only know about this woman thanks to a fellow blogger whose site I enjoy, and happened to be looking at today? Why?
Natalee Holloway has been missing from Aruba since 2005. After her disappearance, her Mom was a regular on FOX news, members of which travelled extensively to Aruba to give up-to-the minute reports on the search. Same goes for reporters from the other networks. Natalee’s disappearance prompted the governor of Natalee’s home state of Alabama to call for a boycott of Aruba. The search party for Natalee included members of the FBI and three aircrafts from the Dutch Air Force. Natalee’s mother, Beth Twitty, penned a book about the search for her daughter — as did her father Dave Holloway. Beth Twitty even got Dr. Phil to investigate the disappearance. This year, a made-for-TV movie about Natalee was released. I know Natalee’s story so well, I even knew the unusual spelling of her name without looking it up.
But I’ve personally never seen Mitrice’s story on television or in the newspapers I read. Apparently no one has the budget to travel to California. Or to at least pick up the coverage from Los Angeles media outlets. No one is offering Mitrice’s parents a book deal. Dr. Phil apparently is not knocking on the Richardson’s door, offering his services. No Air Force aircraft are assisting in the search.
Did race play a role? Hell, I don’t know. I do know that Natalee looks like this:
And Mitrice looks like this:
Two women, both young, beautiful and missing.
I’m not suggesting that Natalee does not deserve the coverage. Just wondering why Mitrice is receiving only a fraction of a fraction of the coverage Natalee was granted. They are both tragic cases. They both have families who deserve answers. They both deserve a place on the front page.
But instead, the front page is filled with Jon and Kate and the boy in the balloon who wasn’t in the balloon and poor multi-millionaire Rush and his lost NFL bid. As a journalist, I’m a little down about where our priorities are these days. It would appear that missing black women just don’t sell.