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Major

Assignment #4

The face of

American Identity

has been nothing but a horror story in relation to African Americans from their arrival in this land in the

1700s to now. So much so that the 2017 horror film, Get Out went platinum with a plot centered around the

terrifying realities of African Americans. Get Out tells the story of Chris, an African American male that

accompanies his white girlfriend, Rose, as she visits her family in her hometown. The film begins with Chris

asking Rose to caution her family about his race to avoid any unnecessary confrontation. Rose assures him
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that her family is tolerant of all races and will not be bothered by Chris race. However, the visit ends with

Chris discovering that the purpose of his visit was for his organs to be harvested by Roses family and their

secret society. Chris manages to escape death with the assistance of his worried best friend back home

and avoiding the hypnotic trance bestowed on him by Roses mom to sedate him through picking cotton

from the chair he was strapped to and using it as earbuds. I believe the film was so successful simply

because it was only horrifying to white people. From the symbolism of picking cotton in order to ensure

ones safety relating to slavery to the timeless mindset that as an African American I must understand that

my life is never going to be valued the same as my white classmates is common knowledge to me but

strange to anyone outside of my race. The real horror of Get Out was not that Chris body was going to be

harvested for a secret society, but instead that the story was not new news. Although Chris story was

fiction, the story of Phoenix Coldon, a 23 year-old African American woman that seemed to disappear

without an elaborate investigation or clue to her whereabouts is very true. Phoenixs story is just one of the

over 64,000 African American women that have seemingly disappeared without any form of representation.

Get Out just shed light on one of the many explanations for these womens disappearances. However, as a

nation that is built on the liberty and justice for all, why are my fellow African American Women

disappearing without receiving any form of recognition? Through telling the stories of these many missing

African American Women as well draw comparisons from missing Caucasian women and the historical

treatment of African Americans, I hope, like the film Get Out, to ignite thought into anyone that reads this

paper to further question the disappearances of my fellow sisters and how it fits into American Identity.

On February 12, 1793, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, allowing slave owners to retrieve their runaway

slaves far beyond their state lines. This was act was able to be passed because at the time, African

Americans were seen as property and not individuals. Although the law was created to return slaves to their

owners, oftentimes freed African Americans were kidnapped and sent to work on plantations regardless of
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their freed status. Being that African Americans were not valued in society, it was difficult for individuals to

prove that they were in fact free and seek justice against their kidnappers. Oftentimes, African Americans

were taken and never seen again by their family and loved ones. Although the current year is 2017 and the

Fugitive Slave Act as well as slavery have both been abolished, it still seems that every day more and more

African Americans are disappearing without any form of justice for their families.

On December 26th, 2011, Stacey Nicole English vanished, leaving her car parked on the side of the road

with the key in the ignition, car doors open, and the engine still running. Initially, police and Englishs family

denied any form of foul play. Her story received recognition in local Atlanta news media outlets, but lacked

any solid leads or information about her whereabouts. Unfortunately, Stacey was found a few weeks later

under a tree in an Atlanta park just a few miles from her car. Her cause of death was determined to be

hypothermia due to how exposed her body was under the tree. However, her family members refuse to

believe that Stacey would just leave her car running, lay down in a strange park and die under a tree

without having been provoked by some form of foul play. Despite their thoughts, her case has since been

closed and ruled an accidental fatality. Stacey Englishs story is a prime example of the issues that a lot of

missing African American Women and their families face. There was a lack of investigation into Staceys

actual cause of death and virtually no investigation into the mystery behind her running car on the side of

the road. Despite the actual facts surrounding her disappearance, I do believe that the inconsistencies

between her last known whereabouts with her family and friends, her running vehicle, and her body are

evidence enough to cause a reasonable doubt into how her cause of death was ruled. It is the responsibility

of local Atlanta police to protect and bring justice to all of their constituents and in this particular case of

Stacey English, they failed miserably.

In May 2005, young Natalee Holloway traveled to Aruba to vacation with friends, however, this was a trip

that Natalee would never return from. Almost 12 years later, her story is still remembered and broadcasted
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in the news annually as a caution to traveling young women and a reminder to many that her story has not

been forgotten. Natalee Holloway was 18 years old at the time of her disappearance and was said to have

last been seen with Joran Van der Sloot, the man of which was determined to have been ultimately

involved in Natalees disappearance. Despite justice being somewhat served, the Holloway family is still

pushing to receive more information into Natalees disappearance and a solid answer about current

wellbeing. The family was able to receive and maintain constant support in the media from major media

outlets such as CNN, ABC, and NBC, all of which provided various tributes to Natalee upon the anniversary

of her disappearance. However, despite mystery and uncertainty surrounding Natalees disappearance, the

constant reminders of her disappearance is a subtle example of privilege in America. Phoenix Coldons

story was equally as puzzling as Natalees however it received little to no media coverage. Phoenixs

mother struggled to receive any information surrounding her daughters disappearance and has cited a lack

of care of attention in her local police department surrounding her daughters case. Upon Natalees

disappearance, thousands of people were sent out to search for her, a search that still subtly continues

today. However, in Phoenixs investigation, her car was not even found by the police, it was instead called

in by a worried bystander. Her car was not search adequately and ruled unnecessary information until

Phoenixs mother searched the car and found that all of Phoenixs valuables (wallet, keys, purse, etc.) were

all inside of the vehicle as well as her glasses and one of her shoes. All of this missing information indicate

that Phoenix left in a hurry or was forced from her vehicle, however, this evidence was overlooked and

never adequately connected to her missing persons case. The difference between both of these missing

womens cases is that one is African American and received unfair treatment by the law, and the other is

Caucasian and has had every tool utilized in order to ensure her safe arrival home. The difference in

attention between the two is often referred to by media outlets as missing white women syndrome, an

issue in which the media as well as law enforcement tend to pay special attention to cases involving
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distressed Caucasian women while neglecting the needs of other races, and in this particular example,

neglecting the needs of African American Women. It is this mindset that has allowed 64,000 African

American Women disappearances to go completely unnoticed and forgotten.

However, not all cases of missing African American Women go completely unnoticed, and in the

disappearance of Tionda and Diamond, two African American children that seemed to vanish into thin air in

July 2001, their story received nationwide attention. The girls, 10 and 3, were last seen in the apartment

that they shared with their mother, Tracey. However, upon their mothers arrival home from work, she

noticed a noted seemingly left by Tionda stating that the girls had gone up the street. When the girls did not

return home, Tracey notified the police of their disappearance. Over the next 15 years, countless efforts

would be made towards ensuring the girls safe return home. These efforts included local search parties

with police as well as utilizing the FBI to enhance their search. Sadly, the girls have yet to be found, but

their story is still remembered annually in newspapers and the search for the young girls has still continued.

Their story serves a prime example of how despite the strong efforts to rescue missing African American

Women, the longevity of their hiatus is not always due to a lack of effort by law enforcement and the

surrounding community. Websites like Black and Missing (Blackandmissing.org) serve as a constant

reminder for those that their disappearances seem to have been forgotten as well as an updated tool to

educate communities about the individuals that may be around them. Black and Missing is actively working

towards raising awareness to the injustices of not just African American Women but all African Americans

through providing detailed information surrounding each missing individual as well as the current status of

their missing peoples case and who to contact if that individual is spotted anywhere.

Although I was not able to find concrete reasons surrounding the disappearances of each of the missing

64,000+ African American Women missing in the United States due to unrest in most of their cases, I was

able to discover the lack of attention and compassion that African Americans receive in this country. Their
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societal troubles have gone far beyond the missing white women syndrome, and delve deeper into the

meaning of being an African American in the United States. To be an African American in this country is to

be a second class citizen. A citizen that does not receive protection, but whose only duty is to respect and

follow the rules of those that are deemed to be first class citizens. However, if slavery has been abolished

and the Constitution declares that all individuals are equal and deserve equal protection and right to due

process, why is a portion of the population missing without any form of annual recognition or missing black

women syndrome,? I attempted this assignment to reflect on the issues in this country and come to a

conclusion about why such injustice against a whole race is still occurring over 150 years since the Fugitive

Slave Law was repealed. However, the only conclusion that I came to is that no two missing persons cases

are the same and despite the injustice, there is not one right answer to bring home all 64,000 plus women

home.

Work Cited

Black and Missing | But Not Forgotten. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
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<http://blackandmissing.org/>.

/.latest_citation_text

Boyette, Chris. "New Clues, Questions in Natalee Holloway Case." CNN. Cable News

Network, 30 May 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

<http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/28/world/natalee-holloway-new-tip/>.

Boyle, Louise. "The Faces of the Forgotten: Heartbreaking Plight of the 64,000 Black

Women Missing across America... as the Country Turns a Blind Eye." Daily Mail Online.

Associated Newspapers, 18 Jan. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

<http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2088428/The-shocking--forgotten--toll-missing-

black-women-U-S.html>.

Get Out. Dir. Jordan Peele. Perf. Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams. Blumhouse

Productions, 2017. Film.

Lohr, David. "Phoenix Coldon: Cruel Hoax Costs Family of Missing Woman Their Life

Savings, Home (EXCLUSIVE)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 Apr.

2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/phoenix-coldon-

missing_n_1432683.html>.

Lohr, David. "Stacey Nicole English Missing: Family and Friends Seek 'Post-Christmas

Miracle,' Search for Clues." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Jan. 2012.

Web. 31 Mar. 2017. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/stacey-nicole-english-

missing-search_n_1184341.html>.

Wilson, Carol. Freedom at Risk: The Kidnapping of Free Blacks in America, 1780-1865.

N.p.: U of Kentucky, 1991. Print.


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Wong, Grace, and Jeremy Gorner. "Bradley Sisters Who 'vanished into Thin Air' Still

Missing 15 Years Later." Chicagotribune.com. N.p., 25 July 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.

<http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-bradley-sisters-anniversary-met-

20160705-story.html>.