The Gabby Petito case amplified discussions on the phenomenon entitled the Missing White Woman Syndrome. The Missing White Woman Syndrome stresses the severely lacking media attention that minorities receive when they’ve disappeared.
The Missing White Woman syndrome emphasizes the disproportionate levels of attention that missing white women cases receive, compared to what women of other classes and ethnicity receive.
The Gabby Petito Case
The case of 22-year-old white woman Gabby Petito snatched the attention of Americans nationwide in only two weeks. The sudden disappearance of Gabby amid her journey with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, gained immediate traction as people around the country strived to detect clues and finish the missing case of Gabby themselves.
Soon, officers confirmed that a dead body found in the Grand Teton National Park was the missing Gabby Petito. Although some might think that the reported carcass of Gabby marked the end of the case, the national fixation continued. The affair carries on as officials are scouring for Brian Laundrie, the boyfriend of Gabby that was now a possible suspect. (Source: ABC News)
The Missing White Woman Syndrome
People in minority groups, specifically women of color, expressed their sadness, stating that they wished people would have that level of dedication when their loved ones went missing.
Everybody who is missing loved ones is saying, ‘Why wasn’t my case done that like?’, it’s very hard because it takes you back to when your child went missing…When you report your loved one missing, you hear, ‘We’ll try to get someone on this,’ and they act as if they don’t have enough manpower to do it. But as you can see, they can get enough manpower to do it, they just choose which cases they want to do.Paula Cosey Hill
Paula Cosey Hill’s daughter, Shemika Cosey, went missing in Christmas 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. Shemika Cosey remains missing until now. Paula Cosey felt an overwhelming surge of different emotions as she watched the developing story of Gabby Petito because although she shared the grief that the Petito Family felt, she also recalled the lack of significance given to her daughter’s case. (Source: ABC News)
Paula Cosey Hill’s daughter, Shemika Cosey, went missing in Christmas 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. Shemika Cosey remains missing until now. Paula Cosey felt an overwhelming surge of different emotions as she watched the developing story of Gabby Petito because although she shared the grief that the Petito Family felt, she also recalled the lack of significance given to her daughter’s case.
Joy Reid requested the appearance of Lynnette Grey Bull and Derrica Wilson, advocates of missing Black and Indigenous women and children, to tackle the case of Gabby Petito on the Reid Out. Both the advocates noted that the media coverage of the disappearance of people that weren’t white women was very insufficient, compared to the attention Gabby’s case received.
Joy responded that there’s already an existing term for that vast difference in attention: the Missing White Woman Syndrome, coined by Gwen Ifill, a Black writer who tremendously aided in breaking the barriers within the Washington press corps.
The way the #gabbypetito Tiktoks already acquired more than 790 million views in less than a month reflected the great response to Gabby Petito’s case. More than six news outlets already had her found carcass as a headline the morning after its confirmation, and additionally, her case even gained coverage outside the United States. (Source: New York Times)
The Minorities’ Unheard Demands
The people of color missing cases generally gain a lower level of media coverage even though they occur in higher percentages. The co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation Inc, Natalie Wilson, states that children belonging to minority groups, such as Hispanic and Black children, get less attention from the media because they’re more susceptible to being classified as runaways.
Wilson further expresses her disappointment as she notes the occurring stereotypes in the situation that most grown minorities are often related to crime, violence, addiction, and poverty.
Only 30% of the disappearances and murders of Indigenous people were shown in the news, compared to the 51% of white individuals. The highly insufficient media attention in the cases of minorities emphasizes the lack of care that the media and law enforcement have. (Source: ABC News)