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Desirable as it would be to live under an equal set of laws and customs, many a discriminatory case has pointed to the reality that factors besides justice make their way into the legal system. Discrimination in policing is much discussed, but it is not the only arena in which racial demographics play a part. Howard Law recently held a panel that spoke to the ways that race and gender disproportionately affect Black women who go missing.

Experts from all over the country recently assembled at Howard University for a panel and frank discussion about missing Black women and the lack of media coverage.

The event, which was held in the law school’s Moot Court Room, also amplified the Audible original series “Finding Tamika,” co-produced by Alexander’s company, Color Farm Media.

The disappearance and death of Tamika Huston happened almost 20 years ago in 2004. Yet her death, and the lack of media coverage surrounding it despite best efforts, is still relevant in highlighting the magnitude of the problem.

As Alexander said in her opening speech: “This series isn’t just a series about her life. It also guides on why and how national media distorts the rules of engagement for so many missing persons.”

This distortion is nothing new. Its legacy is so poignant, like this Patrice O’ Neal bit from 2011:

It could be dropped along any point in American history and be just as accurate as this cutting monologue from American Gods:

The panel went on to discuss the ways that the intersection of race and gender can complicate something as simple as making sure someone’s daughter safely finds her way home.

Hudson’s aunt, Rebkah Howard, spoke about her experiences as a surviving family member. As a publicist, she essentially made her niece a client after her disappearance.

“I knew that I had the skill set, the contacts, the ability to get Tamika’s face out there, get her story told because that, to me, was the best hope in finding her,” Howard said. “In my naivety, certainly everyone would want to hear Tamika’s story, too.” …“So often as Black folks, we have to be perfect, in every capacity even in our death,” Cross said. “We have to have the most clean, pristine background to invite any sort of empathy from so many people.”

From mentioning marijuana found on the bodies of unarmed black teenagers who were killed by adults twice their age or passing over Ruby in favor of Rosa, there is a long history of respectability politics determining how Black folks are able to mourn and make ground fertile enough for the possibility of redress. It is important to have these discussions everywhere, but the conversations are especially necessary in places of higher learning that will go on to produce attorneys, prosecutors, and the journalists who will report on matters of life and death in our communities.

Rest in peace, Tamika.

Howard University Law School Hosts A Missing Black Women Panel Honoring Tamika Huston [Afro]

Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s.  He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at and by tweet at @WritesForRent.