Who is Tamika Houston?

Quick. If I say “Runaway Bride.” What comes to mind? Probably either Julia Roberts, or the newmaking Georgia bride with “cold feet.” Now, If I mention the name “Tamika Houston,” what comes to mind? Anybody? Anyone? Bueller?

I know I’ve beat this drum before, but it needs beating again and again, until the point is driven home. I ask these questions to underscore a point made in an article that arrived in my inbox this evening. It compares another case to the now-famous “runaway bride” case.

Tamika Huston has yet to get that kind of attention, even on a slow news day.

Tamika, 24, disappeared nearly a year ago from her home in Spartanburg, S.C. Her car was discovered at a Spartanburg apartment complex about a month after she was last seen.

Local media have been attentive, but the story of Tamika Huston never got a national wind under its sails. Not that Tamika doesn’t fit the profile; she does — young, sparkling, beloved, beautiful and gone without a trace.

It is, in some folks’ views, hypersensitivity, perhaps even paranoia, that leads one to wonder if the oversight might have anything to do with race – Tamika is black. After all, not all missing white women are featured on national newscasts.

But, no missing black women get that kind of attention. Why not?

Could it be that a black woman’s life is just not thought to be as valuable as that of her white peers? Is black tragedy not as tragic? Is black trouble not as troubling? Is black sorrow not as sorrowful?

It doesn’t take a conspiracy to put a Tamika Huston on the back burner; all a producer, host or booker has to do is absorb the messages constantly sent by a society that has historically ignored black circumstance until directly affected by it. It’s not necessarily that they meet and decide not to cover the mystery of Tamika’s fate. It’s that it never occurs to them to cover it.

Of course, Tamkia Houston is just one missing person; one story. And you’re only likely to hear about her if you live in the area where she went missing. Basically, it’s like something I said in another post about race and blogging.

…identity and everything that goes with it—race, gender, orientation, economics, education, etc.—affects what you look at and filters what you see. …how you identify not only affects how you see other people, but whether you see them at all. Chances are the fist people you’ll “see”—those first blips on your radar, the people you’ll automatically pay attention to—will be those with whom you share some element of identity. It’s inevitable. That is, unless you make a conscious effort to do otherwise.

I don’t think that every missing person’s case should get the treatment that this most recent one got. I don’t think Tamika Houston should get splashed across CNN as the “runaway bride” did. The point is that Tamika Houston’s life isn’t worth any less than, say, Laci Peterson’s. The people who miss her don’t love her any less. Her family doesn’t grieve any less than the Petersons miss their daughter. And the same could be said in comparison to many other unheralded cases, but you wouldn’t know it to look at our news.

I do think that all of us, regular folks and the media should pull back and ask ourselves why we look so intently at some cases and not at others, or why we shine the spotlight on some cases and not on others. And when we come up with an answer, we all need to make a conscious effort to do differently.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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8 Responses to Who is Tamika Houston?

  1. karsh says:

    Amen to that. I think there should be a call to the media about this like with Rashawn Brazell. Granted, I still hadn’t seen any mainstream media talk about his murder, but it’d be worth a shot if enough people raise some hell.

  2. Pat says:

    It is the same old story…white women getting all the attention, even when it is not warranted. Jennifer Wilbanks is now going to be wealthy because she got “cold feet”. When she should be in jail for fingering a Hispanic male with bad teeth for abduction. Instead, she and her nutty fiance are going to be paid for being two idiots in love. If I was John Mason, after looking into those big, crazy, bulbous eyes of Jennifer’s, I would head for the hills. Those eyes are telling everyone that she is cracked.

  3. Kathy says:

    Sorry but I think Missing people are just starting to become a hotter topic for new meadia here in the last year.I really don’t care what race anyone is. nobody
    should have to worry about a loveone like that.

  4. Blauqkween says:

    I think it is sad. I look at the scores of cases latest being the girl in Aruba, and it has been blastered in the news over two weeks on every major network basic to cable, and let a black person caome up missong and you hear nothing. Tha parents of this young lady said they contacted local and national news and nothing happened. I would like to see the day when black lives are valued. The only reason heard of her was I was looking at another story about a teen who raped a dog, and this was one of the video feeds from their local station. To Tamika Houston family I want you to know that you are loved and in my prayers. I am sorry that this country continues to fail us. I am sorry!!!!!

  5. Randy Roberts says:

    I have heard this story on local talk shows. There is no reason one race should be prefered above another. God made us all, and we are all brothers and sisters. I have tried to think for a long time a better media way of getting out these stories. I’m puzzled about the information that was found, about the apartment, and there is not enough to bring someone in for questioning??? I hope this family can get answers, SOON! I have two attractive young daughters, 18 & 20, I worry about them in this world!

  6. dee says:

    I know that the Houston family lives is wreaked with turmoil and it is utterly disgusting as well as disturbing to see that your CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, Court t.v. medias whom are more than likely heard of the case but would never say a word, are clearly displaying their “TRUE RACIST” nature. If it had been a attractive or ugly pasty white woman, the Nancy Graces of media would have been all over it with an passionate out cry. Blacks and Latinos knows that generally speaking, most whites are outwardly or inwardly secret racist. Let’s stop denying it. And as a white man, I’m truly perturb and so I personally send my condolences to the Houston family.

  7. Christy says:

    Prayers and Strength to the Houston Family…

    The media did not cover Tamika’s missing story and so sorry that they are covering her murder.(ratings)
    To see Tamika’s singing talents and smiles on the video was heartfelt….Tamika you are LOVED. To bring one smile to another human being was your purpose on earth. To the family, so sorry that we shared the smile of Tamika under these circumstances.


  8. Diane Manago says:

    Tamika’s family,
    Seeing her smiling face on TV was like seeing my own daughter -happy, content and destined for greatness. I’m so sorry she is no longer here with us on this earth but her smile will always be. My sincere condolences to the Houston family.

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