February 11, 2012

Black and Missing Foundation: Seeking and Saving "The Least of These"

 I do not remember how I first learned of the Black and Missing Foundation, but I am glad I did.

This organization, founded in 2008 by a former law enforcement official and a public relations specialist, does good work by forcing all of us to think about how we view the world, the people in it, and how we respond to those who are missing, especially those who are black and missing.

Before anyone asks why is there a need for an organization called "Black and Missing Foundation", please know this: ABC News reported that FBI statistics say nearly 40% of missing persons are "people of color." Would you know this from watching traditional newscasts about missing persons? We are talking about hundreds of thousands of missing persons "of color", most of whom TV viewers or consumers of other media have never heard about. Why is that?

Don't doubt this: if some unknown disease or unaccounted for event "disappeared" that number of American citizens, a national emergency would be declared. Oh wait, that number of American citizens have been "disappeared." 

I live in Michigan, and during the last few weeks, everyone here has been bombarded by news reports concerning the tragic murder of Mrs. Jane Bashara. I think whatever happened to Mrs. Bashara was a complete tragedy and everyone should care about finding her killer and putting that person into prison for a very long time. The news coverage of her case has been relentless. Her husband, a "person of interest" in the case but currently not in police custody, appeared on a national morning news program to proclaim his innocence.

At the same time, please take a look at these charts and graphs from the Black and Missing Foundation. These numbers tell the true story of who is most likely to be lost and not found. It tells the true story of "the least of these." "These" are "least" not because they are less human or valuable, but because society often treats missing minorities differently and silently as weeks and months pass without any answers regarding what has happened to them. Bianca Jones, a missing toddler who has no way of identifying or protecting herself, has been missing in the Detroit area for over two months. Her name no longer appears in the daily news casts. In fact, her name dropped off that radar within a few weeks of her disappearance. I sincerely pray she is not forgotten. I sincerely pray she will be found alive and returned home.

Jesus told his followers they would be judged (in part) by how they treated those considered "the least." I don't think any of us (alone) can change the way society cares about those who are missing. I would never want anyone to stop caring about what happened to Jane Bashara, a white, upper-middle-class married woman who lived in a wealthy Detroit suburb. I just want everyone to care equally about what happened to Bianca Jones, a young African-American toddler who lived in the central part of the city of Detroit. If you consider yourself a Christian, you need to care about this.

Jesus Himself said it best in Matthew 25:31- 46

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
   41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
   45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
   46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

No comments: