In the midst of discussions regarding "Missing White Women Syndrome," one state has made a major step toward searching for those who are often overlooked by society. Earlier this month, Minnesota became the first state to build a task force for missing and murdered Black women and girls. According to a report from Brooklyn White of Essence, state lawmakers unanimously approved a bill calling for the task force to be built back in February and signed the bill into law this September. Additional reporting from Axios describes the task force as a “12-person panel, made up of representatives from the courts, law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups." By December 2022, the 12-person task force will meet with state lawmakers to provide recommendations regarding the state's search for these missing individuals.
"It really is truly a public health crisis and it's one that there just hasn't been a bright light shone on," state lawmaker Ruth Richardson told Axios.
"We hope this is a moment that not only moves us forward in Minnesota, but sets a standard for other states."
Minnesota has laid a blueprint that other states can follow in the near future because searching for missing and murdered Black and brown girls is not an issue that solely exists in one state. In the past, Richardson has pointed out that the homicide rate for Black women and girls is twice the national average. Moreover, she has pointed out that the homicide rate for Black women in the state of Minnesota is 2.7 times higher than that for white women.
“We have to consider root causes of historical trauma, systemic racism, sexism, sexual objectification of Black women and girls, and the vulnerabilities that poverty, homelessness, child welfare disparities, domestic violence, sex trafficking and fear of law enforcement create," Richardson said in February, according to the Associated Press.
With the support of her fellow state lawmakers, Richardson and her colleagues can continue the important work of protecting Black women and girls.
“We are overdue for a community response,” Rep. Richardson tweeted.
“[I am] proud my bill became law and [I am] ready to get to work.”