Natalie Wilson and her sister-in-law, Derrica Wilson, have worked together since 2008 to ensure the people of color that are reported missing don’t continue to slip through the cracks. The ‘Black And Missing Foundation’ helps raise awareness around missing person cases and helps families navigate police and the media, two spaces they say can be hostile for people of color.
Natalie said in an interview with Huff Post, “Derrica is in law enforcement, and I’m in media relations. Those are the two critical professions needed to bring awareness to find our missing. Families desperately need our help. Many times when they contact us, they have nowhere to go. They don’t know what to do. We are their last resort. We are their last hope. So, we cannot let them down. We have to do everything that we can and channel our resources to help them find their missing loved one.”
During the conversation, Natalie shared the inspiration behind the foundation and why they felt their efforts were important to African-Americans and other minorities. She said, “There was a young lady by the name of #TamikaHuston who went missing from Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is Derrica’s hometown. We heard that her family struggled to get any type of media coverage for her disappearance. And, a little while later Natalee Holloway went missing. Her name and face dominated the news.”
Natalie continued, “Derrica and I decided to do some research to find out if this was an issue. ‘Are people of color disappearing, or is it just Caucasians who are disappearing?’ Because they dominated the news. We found that, at the time, 30 percent of all persons missing were of color. So we founded the organization.”
She also gave some insight on how most of the cases are handled or prioritized, stating, “Many times when children of color are reported missing, they’re reported missing as a runaway. If you’re classified as a runaway, you do not receive the Amber Alert or any type of media coverage. Even if they did run away, we need to help them within 24 to 48 hours, because many of them are lured into sex trafficking.”
She continued, “We’re also finding that when people of color, men and women, are reported missing, they’re deemed to be involved with some type of criminal act, they’re stereotyped, and their cases aren’t taken seriously.”
Natalie explained that their organization is important because they have the resources and talent to help the communities and they must help. “It’s important for us to exist because we are the only nonprofit organization that is a voice for an often ignored group. They’re ignored by law enforcement. They’re ignored by the media, and they’re ignored by the community. We all have a role to help find our missing and bring awareness to their disappearance,” she said. “If not us, who will do it?”
Much respect to Natalie and Derrica Wilson for taking action in the community! ??