Why is Story of a Missing 5-Year-Old Black Girl Underreported in News?


Did 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley simply walk away from her Glendale, Arizona home sometime on Tuesday, October 11th? And why did the media initially release a description of her abductor and a getaway vehicle, then go silent on this important clue? And finally, why is Jhessye’s case getting so little attention with the national press (compared to Baby Lisa, for instance)?

jhessye shockley jerice hunter
Why does the mother of Jhessye Shockley, Jerice Hunter, have these big bruises under her eyes?

And now when we couple this muffled piece of information with the fact that the three older sisters have been removed from Jerice Hunter’s home and taken to Child Protective Services, we begin to scratch our heads even more furiously. Furthermore, we can add to the growing pile of perplexity a bit of uncovered data coming from The Arizona Republic.

The unsettling data is that the mother was convicted of injury to a child in 2006, and served 90 days in jail. Okay, so there’s even more troubling backwash regarding her husband (it’s unclear whether they are still married), George Shockley (he’s a convicted sex offender). But aren’t we wrong in tying in the three older siblings’ removal from the home (and placing them in CPS), to the sordid past of the mother and father?

Yes it’s erroneous, but the leap to suspicion and condemnation of the mother is a pillowy one. I mean it’s too easy. But let me address my second question before I fall any further down a rabbit hole of slippery deductive thinking! On October 17th ABC 15 (Scripps Media, Inc.) gave a very detailed description of a black woman putting a child in a car (a 1998 to 2000 4-door Chevy Malibu).

This was a tip and I assume the incident happened on October 11th, but the time and date was never mentioned. The woman was said to be wearing ‘a solid white T-shirt, blue jean shorts, and pink flip flops.’ The tip makes her appear as a younger ‘black woman (between 25 and 30 years old), with black hair in a bun and brown eyes.’

jhessye shockley flyers
Family and friends hand out flyers of missing Jhessye Shockley in her Glendale, Az. neighborhood. But why is the national media negligent in reporting her story?

Notice how precise this description is? But why did we last hear about this mystery woman nearly a week ago? Who gave the Glendale police this most revealing tip? Does it hold any water or was it possibly a plant by the real person culpable for Jhessye’s disappearance? Who initiated the hush-up? Was it the Glendale police when they learned more about the source of the tip?

Finally, what about the allegations of a story of a missing black girl being buried in the news? Jhessye Shockley’s grandmother, Shirley Johnson has been tossing this out to the media. It’s not really so hard to admit this claim is spot on, when comparing it to the recent news coverage for a white Baby Lisa in Kansas City. I’m alright in saying it (some racism here), because it’s true. Today I’m seeing 4,200 articles on Baby Lisa, compared to 712 pieces written on Baby Jhessye.

This doesn’t even take into account all the national television coverage for Baby Lisa, which is promulgated out to millions more people, since many folks are too lazy (or too busy) to read the printed word anymore. BL is getting 6 times (plus) more coverage than a little black baby. That’s the facts, so Shirley Johnson is correct. It’s unfortunate that just now, my mind is drifting back in time to the Atlanta Child Murders of the late 1970s.

*(Sources: Michelle Sigona, JVM’s Issues, The Associated Press, CNN, HLN, Today. MSNBC.com, and especially ABC 15.com)