January 2, 2013

There’s a particularly cynical exchange in an episode of the cult HBO series “The Wire” wherein a couple of homicide detectives remark upon how little priority is being given to the unsolved murders of several poor African-Americans. To drive the point home, one of the detectives refers to these homicides as “misdemeanor murders”. Complaining about the media’s exclusive fascination with kidnapped or missing white children has become something of a dead horse. At a certain point, just observing that something is a problem isn’t really helping matters; if it bothers you, logic dictates, you actually try to do something about it. That said, it’s hard not to be disturbed by the near-dearth of coverage that the case of Sage Smith has received, in Virginia or nationally, and the tone of the scant coverage that she has been given. Smith is a 19-year-old African-American transgender woman who disappeared from her Charlottesville home nearly a month ago; she was last seen leaving to meet one Erik McFadden at a train station and still had not returned two days later. According to Daryl C. Hannah of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, since Smith’s disappearance, the only remotely “mainstream” media coverage the disappearance has received has been a local news report.