There is an alarming rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women and people (MMIWP). Despite being disproportionately impacted by violence, media coverage tends to undergo what journalist Sarah Stillman calls “the missing white girl syndrome.” While the media is mainly responsible for its role in reporting MMIWP, the entire community must share the responsibility of ensuring equity in messaging. For example, media coverage of Gabby Petito brought attention to other missing persons in her community. Still, it could have made a more considerable impact if those persons had received a fraction of the attention given to Petito.
In his letter to Washingtonians in the interim report of the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson discussed the task force and the passage of House Bill 1725 for an alert system for MMIWP. The alert system is similar to Amber alerts for children and silver alerts for missing seniors.
As an aspiring ally to the Indigenous community and a master’s of social work student, I encourage all Washingtonians to support the attorney general’s office and the MMIWP task force by participating in the conversation of providing equity in media coverage of MMIWP.
Olynthia Ann Chancy II, Seattle