When I first saw the black and white picture of missing 8-year-old little girl, Relisha Rudd… captured with a slight smile and a faraway look… it struck a chord with me. I stared at her picture for, what seemed like, an infinite number of minutes; maybe because I have a niece around Relisha’s age, who also enacts a similar look in pictures. Then when I read Relisha’s personal story and saw the surveillance video of her walking down the corridor of a D.C. hotel with 51-year-old janitor, Kahlil Tatum (her abductor), I felt a strong sense of disquietude because child abduction stories rarely ever turn out the way we’d like them to, and because I couldn't imagine my niece having to navigate the same precarious living situation as Relisha without having the luxury of dependable family members, or a concerned party, to help protect her from harm.
So many Black children go missing without the sense of urgency or alarm they're entitled to; and situations replete with extreme family dysfunction, Black single motherhood, and poverty, make it too easy to write the youngest and most susceptible victims of the system, off. Relisha Rudd’s story has been circulating in the national media (which is unlikely for little girls and boys that inhabit the same skin) and seems to get more disturbing as details surface.