Does Anyone Care When Black Men Go Missing?
4 months ago
Terrance Deon Williams' family is getting some celebrity help, but many more suffer alone
If he is still alive, Marcia Williams' son turned 36 on his birthday last Thursday. Unfortunately, Williams, of Naples, Fla., can't be sure because her son, Terrance Deon Williams, vanished on Jan. 11, 2004, and has not been seen or heard from since.
Terrance Williams is among the hundreds of African American adults reported missing in the U.S., according to Black and Missing Foundation, Inc. Each day, about 40 percent of the 2,300 people reported missing are people of color, FBI data show. And slightly more than half of the total number of missing people are men, according to analysis by the National Center for Missing Adults. However, black men make up a demographic that many experts say is more vulnerable than missing people of other racial and age groups; often less urgency is shown by law enforcement and media about finding missing black men than is displayed when a white adult, child or teenager disappears.
Monica Caison, a white woman and founder of Wilmington, N.C.-based Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons, says she’s found it particularly hard to round up search effort resources when the missing person isn’t “that pretty, all-American white girl with her whole life ahead of her."
Caison says that some people are downright “ignorant” and even racist when a missing person isn’t young and white.
"You’d be astonished by what happens on some cases,” Caison tells Loop 21. “We had a mentally ill African American woman lost in the streets of San Bernardino [California] and I had to argue with a copy center employee who would only give me a ‘price break’ on 50 color flyers.”
So, for the loved ones of missing black adults, a special kind of resolve is needed to not lose hope and give up the search.
It is a resolve that Marcia Williams has shown since Jan. 11, 2004, when her son Terrance left his apartment to attend a party with some of his co-workers. He never returned. Williams reported him missing after getting a call from his roommate saying that he had not seen or heard from Terrance in two days.
Nine years later, Williams has no one in Naples -- her then-husband left her in Florida two months after Terrance's disappearance and all of her family lives more than 730 miles away in Chattanooga, Tenn. -- but she refuses to leave the city. She maintains a home there. She goes to work every day as a bank teller. And she looks for her son. It's her life now.
“I’m still Marcia, and I’m still a real person; I just have a trial that I’m going through,” she says. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to find my son.”