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Black, Pregnant, Murdered…and All But Forgotten

ali gilmore

As I’m writing this, Ali Gilmore has been missing for 799 days, 15 hours, and 43 minutes according to the website dedicated to finding the missing pregnant woman.

Her disappearance was one of the bigger news stories in Tallahassee, FL for a couple of months, with fairly consistent news reports about the continuing search for her whereabouts and billboards all around town with phone numbers to call with any pertinent information about her disappearance. The case even got some national exposure, appearing on Dateline, MSNBC, the Montel Williams Show, and Nancy Grace among others. The reward was and still is $30,000, but absolutely nothing has been found in the two years that she has been missing.

With all of the coverage surrounding the so-called “Marine Murders” and even the story of Laci Peterson’s murder a couple of years ago, reports of missing or murdered pregnant women have been surfacing more and more and the news exposure has been increasing exponentially. But, as a recent story by CBS news reports, the stories getting the widest exposure aren’t indicative of the real statistics of maternal homicide victims.

They quote a statistic from the CDC that black women like Ali Gilmore have, “a maternal homicide risk about seven times that of white women. Black women ages 25-29 are about 11 times more likely as white women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant or in the year after childbirth.”

The CBS article brings up two very important issues: 1. Why is there racially disproportionate reporting on the subject of maternal homicide and 2. Why does there seem to be such an alarming number of maternal homicide incidents in the first place?

Websites and blogs like blackandmissing.blogspot.com have been trying to take up the slack, as it were, in media exposure for missing and murdered African Americans but its sad that there was such a dearth in reporting that a website like Blackandmissing had to be created in the first place. If the news reported on every black missing pregnant woman they’d have no time to discuss the minutiae of Paris Hilton’s life.

CBS quotes a very disheartening statistic from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, that “ 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy” and the CDC estimates that 4-8 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are abused by their significant other. Women are more vulnerable when they are pregnant, less likely or able to defend themselves if they are in an abusive relationship and so they are more susceptible to violence.

Media coverage about the disappearance of Ali Gilmore has all but stopped in Tallahassee and in the nation at large and it will continue to stay that way until any more information surfaces. It is fairly understandable; when a case reaches a wall as this one seems to have done, it becomes a sort of waiting game. But it makes one wonder; if this case had been given the widespread and continued coverage of a Laci Peterson, would we still be looking for Ali Gilmore 799 days, 15 hours, and 43 minutes after her disappearance?

Candy -- NYUCOLLEGECANDY Writer