Jasmyne A. Cannick

*Apparently, it seems that in order to get the FBI involved in a missing person’s case you need to be the following: white, female, and from a privileged background.  Something that 24-year-old Mitrice Richardson isn’t.

When 17-year-old Chelsea King went missing in Poway, California, after she went for a run after school on Thursday and never returned home, she became the subject of an extensive search that not only included local police authorities but the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well.  

Soon after the manhunt began, her car was found at the Rancho Bernardo Glassman Community Park with her cell phone, iPod and school clothes found inside.  It was then that DNA on a piece of her clothing found along the southern shore of the lake which led to John Albert Gardner III, a registered sex offender, being arrested.  

Search crews looking in the area near where that article of clothing was found, discovered a body Tuesday in a shallow grave in a tributary about 10 feet from the edge of the water.  All of this in the span of five days.

Mitrice Richardson

Mitrice Richardson, a Black lesbian, who will be 25-years-old on April 30, has been missing for now 167 days after last being seen alive in Malibu after being arrested for not paying an $89 dinner bill at Geoffrey’s restaurant.  She was released from custody at 12:30 a.m. on September 17, 2009 without her car from the sheriff’s Malibu-Lost Hills Station and hasn’t been seen since.  

Despite pleas from her family for the FBI to get involved, to date they have not.

Even with numerous pleas to their local Congressional representative Maxine Waters to step in demand he FBI to get involved, she has not.

Attempts at working with the both the L.A.P.D. and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to locate Mitrice have gone stale.  Neither agency has had any contact with Michael Richardson, Mitrice’s father, in over a month.

But yet and still, when a white teenage female goes missing, no expense is spared in bringing in the appropriate law enforcement agencies to locate her.  

What happened to Chelsea King is horrible and what the King family is going through is something that I don’t wish for any mother and father.  However, I’d be remised if I didn’t point out the fact that the treatment that her disappearance received in comparison to that of Mitrice Richardson clearly illustrates in black and white the difference in the value of a Black woman’s life verses a white woman.

If local law enforcement agencies with the help of the FBI could locate Chelsea King within a week of her disappearance, imagine what they might have accomplished had they put forth the same effort when Mitrice first went missing—167 days ago.

Now that the King family has closure, as tragic and sad as that closure is, there needs to be a call made by Los Angeles Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Los Angeles offices of the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Urban League, every Black church, women’s group and on down the line for the FBI to get involved in the disappearance of Mitrice Richardson.  Now.

Unexpected and unapologetically Black, at Jasmyne Cannick, 32, is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community.  She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com.