Tens of thousands Black women and youth go missing in the U.S. every year. The cases of these young Black women and children are rarely covered in national media, and they don’t receive the resources and attention that would be needed to find them. The “Ebony alert” system will be used to inform people of missing Black women and children between the ages of 12 and 25. When activated, the proposed system – similar to Amber or Silver alerts — would inform people of missing Black children and young women between the ages of 12 to 25.
The alert system will make use of electronic highway signs and encourage the use of television, radio, social media and other platforms to spread information about the missing persons alert.
The new alert system will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.
State Sen. Steven Bradford, who introduced the measure, praised Newsom’s support in signing the bill — and he emphasized the disparity between resources and coverage in searching for white people and those of color across California.
“Today, California is taking bold and needed action to locate missing Black children and Black women in California,” Bradford said in a statement announcing the bill signing.
“The Ebony Alert will ensure that vital resources and attention are given so we can bring home missing Black children and women in the same way we search for any missing child and missing person,” he added.
Black youth and women go missing at a disproportionate rate
On average, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. each year, according to data from the National Crime Information Center.
In 2022, up to 546,000 people were reported missing across the U.S. — with 36% of those cases identified as Black youth and women.
And while Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population, nearly 40% of missing persons cases are people of color, according to the Black and Missing Foundation.
“It is important to continue to raise awareness about this issue and advocate for policies that prioritize finding missing people of color,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation, told NPR.
Wilson told NPR that time is often critical in missing persons cases. Wilson told NPR that time is often critical in missing persons cases.