If Gabby Petito Was A Person Of Color, Would Anyone Have Cared – Sadly, Probably Not

Photo: gabspetito / Instagram / Twitter 
Gabby Petito, Missing Black Women

Since the disappearance of Gabby Petito, the case has resulted in massive news coverage and a frenzy in different social media theories on what exactly happened after Petito was reported missing while on a roadtrip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

Of course Gabby Petito’s case is heartbreaking, but for people of color, it’s hard to see why this case was regarded with such national coverage compared to other missing persons cases — especially involving racial minorities.

Why aren't missing people of color given the same attention as Gabby Petito? 

In Wyoming, the same state where Petito went missing, there are cases of over 700 Indigenous people that have been reported missing in the past decade, and yet their stories have not received the same attention and fervor. 

Between 2011-2020, many Indigenous girls have been reported missing, 85% were children, while 57% were women. 

In the timeframe in which Indigenous people go missing, 50% are found within one week, while 21% remain missing for 30 days or longer. Compared to 11% of white people who only remain missing for the same amount of time.

Prior to the discovery of what officials are saying is Petito’s body, the search for her focused mainly within the national parks, which was close to the Wind River Indian Reservation.

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Indigenous people in Wyoming have been reported missing in 22 out of the state’s 23 counties, which should make it a state-wide problem that deserves the same amount of media attention as Petito, and maybe even more.

It was also found that only 30% of Indigenous homicide victims made the news, compared to 51% of white victims.

Though, when Indigenous people do make the news, their coverage is almost too graphic, compared to how white homicide victims are treated in the media. 

After immense pressure from Indigenous persons movements in Wyoming, demanding for more action to be done regarding increased attention to their cases, Governor Mark Gordon created the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force in 2019. If the establishment of the task force has led to any significant changes, it’s hard to tell, although it’s despicable that actions weren’t taken sooner.

Missing people of color deserve the same attention as Gabby Petito.

Petito's disappearance is being discussed in police stations, in TikTok videos, in Tweets and across Facebook.

This kind of attention can unearth crucial evidence that could save the lives of missing people of color or at least bring them justice. 

Simply raising awareness about people of color can help counteract the high rates of these disappearances. 

Missing Black people also get alarmingly low media coverage.

Black people make up 13.4% of the American population, and yet it’s shown that 33.8% of reports in 2019 were for missing Black people.

Black people go missing at a rate three times higher than expected based on population numbers, and many of the reasons fall on the oppressive systems that are put into place. Ranging from poverty, homelessness, and incarceration, to inequity in health and education services.

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Once a Black person goes missing though, they are a lot less likely to be found.

When a Black person’s case does get news coverage, it’s often twisted in a way that isn’t seen for white people. Black children going missing are framed as if they've just “run away,” even if the evidence and consistency of that child’s behavior doesn’t point to them being a runaway.

The runaway rhetoric is clearly used as a tactic to dismiss these missing Black children cases, meaning police probably don’t even bother to try and investigate them. 

It’s incredibly sad that cases for people like Gabby Petito are treated with priority over the many cases of people in marginalized communities who have also gone missing. 

What happened to Petito is a devastating loss, and the circumstances surrounding her case upsetting, but what about closure for the families in these marginalized communities who are still waiting for justice for their loved ones?

RELATED: Family Of Woman Who Died While On A Date With Cop Claims Police Are Trying 'Cover Up' What Really Happened

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.