April, April the giraffe, Fiona, Fiona the Hippo, Fiona the hippopotamus, Made in God's image, missing girls, missing women, people of color, progressive Christianity, Washington D.C., women, women of color
This article was originally published at the SONKA UCC blog.
Like much of the greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been following the progress of the young hippopotamus Fiona. It’s amazing and inspirational to see her improvement each week. Likewise, I pop in to see how the gestational period of April the giraffe is progressing. It’s a nice distraction from the tough stories we read about in the news or the difficulties in our own lives.
But as we focus our attention on April and Fiona, what is going on with the stories we don’t hear much about?
The other day, I saw a story on how 14 young women of color went missing in the Washington D.C. area in one day. The information was not correct. However, as solid facts became more visible, we still see a pattern of young people (especially women) of color disappearing in the area. While the numbers have been decreasing in the past couple of years, there is still concern for the number of women of color who are missing.
Assumptions are made on their disappearance, believing that they ran away instead of considering that something more sinister is happening, like kidnapping and human trafficking. If the young women did run away, some have not been investigating why they left as there could be abuse in the home. Little media attention has been given to the issue – especially if the missing person is a person of color.
While the false claims of the initial post drew me into the conversation, as I did more investigating online, I still noticed that young women of color were still not given the media attention they deserved.
And while I love to see hippo Fiona making progress and giraffe April waiting to have her calf, our call is to make certain that news stories about marginalized human beings have just as much media attention.
Do we pay more attention to animals and some human beings of privilege than other human beings in our society? Do people who are marginalized feel like the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7, just wanting the equivalent of attention to their well-being as we give Fiona the hippo or April the giraffe?
What can we do to be an active part of making people aware of critical issues? First and foremost, we work to ensure that we are following and reposting information that is factual. Secondly, we post information that can raise awareness of issues of groups of people who have been largely ignored by news stories. We talk about these issues in our worship services and in other faith formation opportunities in our congregations. Third, we work to remove our own biases to see that humans very different than us are experiencing real challenges in their lives that we cannot understand. We avoid assuming that their behaviors are done out of defiance and rebelliousness and, instead, ask for investigations into why they are missing or leaving home.
It’s a wonderful break from the ugliness in our world to see Fiona growing and April about to give birth. But through social media and our networks, we are given the opportunity to discover what is going on with our sisters and brothers on this earth and work to guarantee that they are treated as we would want to be treated. Young women of color’s lives matter, they are children of God and made in God’s image.