If you've never heard of Amir Jennings it isn't surprising. Very few people have. He was eighteen months old when he went missing in November. The last time he was seen by someone other than his mother was on a Columbia, South Carolina bank security camera.
His mother, Zinah Jennings has told police multiple stories about Amir's whereabouts and although none of the stories have panned out, she claims she knows he is safe. The police in Columbia aren't buying it and neither is the D.A. She was picked up in December after her mother, Amir's grandmother, reported him missing. Recently a jury found her guilty of "unlawful conduct toward a child." In other words, we don't know what you did with your kid, but it can't be good. The judge gave her ten years a week after she delivered a second child while in custody. It was a baby girl.
The defense asked the court for mercy saying that Zinah Jennings was "stressed out" over having to care for a little boy and suffered from post-partum depression. Witnesses testified that Ms. Jennings had told them she had contemplated giving the child away, or selling him and had even thought about throwing him out of the car as she drove down the highway.
Does any of this sound familiar? Not that long ago there was an eerily similar case in Florida. The mother was Casey Anthony and the missing child was her daughter Caylee. The national press was all over it. You couldn't turn on a cable news outlet without being bombarded with reports about the search for Caylee and the subsequent trial of her mother. Analysts were hired and consulted ad nauseum. The Internet fairly crackled with late breaking bulletins, rumors, and innuendo. Nancy Grace was a whirling dervish.
So where was the media feeding frenzy this time around? Why haven't you, or practically anyone else, heard of Amir Jennings and his dear old, crazy ass, Mom? NBC News quoted Monica Carlson of the Wilmington N.C. CUE Center for Missing Persons. "Media," she said, "has always leaned toward cute little kids. And unfortunately a lot of times they think cute little kids are white."
That's right. Amir Jennings is black, cute as a button by the way, and his disappearance and his mother's trial has barely caused a ripple on the national scene. It would seem the national press prefers to spend their time on exploited and abused white kids rather than black ones. If it happens in the black community, well, hey, that shit just happens. Lets move on to something that will attract more ratings and sponsors. You got a white kid lost in the woods? Get Geraldo on it ASAP.
The apathy is so great in fact that a woman named Natalie Wilson helped co-found an outfit called Black and Missing Inc. Their mission is to try to raise public awareness and help solve cases of missing minority children. To show you exactly how tough that job is, she related this story to the UPI. Her organization arraigned for a television outlet to air a plea for help in finding a young black girl who had disappeared. The spot was bumped so the station could cover Paris Hilton's release from jail.
I don't know what the guidelines are that MSNBC, FOX, and CNN use to decide when to go all in on a story. I'm starting to think the worst of them though. I do know someone is going to read this and they're going to think and say that race has nothing to do with the disparity of coverage between the cases of Caylee Anthony and Amir Jennings. They'll truly believe it and they'll be white. They'll also be wrong.
As I type Zinah Jennings continues to refuse to aid police in the search for her child. One shudders to think what her concept of a "safe place" for her son is.
If he is still alive, Amir Jennings has turned two years old. Tragically, we might never know what happened to him and even worse, many of us, thanks to the silence of the almighty media, don't even know he is gone.
Such is reality in America. We are outraged by what we are told to be outraged about. We only know what the press thinks we want to know. Demographics and ratings determine current events. Everything else is a void. One that swallows up children like Amir Jennings and too many others.
Sic vita est.