Haleigh Cummings and Adji Desir were both children about the same age (she was five, he was six) who disappeared from southern Florida early this year. Adji disappeared while playing outside on January 10. Haleigh disappeared from her bedroom in the middle of the night on February 9. Haleigh’s case has got a ton of publicity, Adji’s very little.
A lot of people, bloggers etc., are saying it has to do with race. Haleigh was a blonde, blue-eyed white girl. Adji was a black, Haitian boy. An Amber Alert was issued in Haleigh’s case, but not in Adji’s, even though in neither instance did the police have any hard evidence that they were abducted. Some people are saying the only difference is that Adji was black. I don’t think so, though. There are in fact significant differences between the cases which go a long way towards explaining why Haleigh got an Amber and more publicity.
To begin with, Haleigh disappeared from her bed in the middle of the night. Adji disappeared during the daylight hours as he played outside. A kid who vanishes from her bed overnight is much more likely to have been abducted than a kid who disappears during the day while outside. Couple that with the fact that Adji is pretty seriously mentally disabled, and I can see why the police thought there was a good chance he just wandered off. (What I want to know is why his grandmother let him play outside alone, given that he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old and can’t talk. Oh well. Too late to do anything about that now.)
Adji lived in a primarily Haitian community. Both his parents are Haitian and his dad actually lives in Haiti. I think that would be a barrier as far as press attention is concerned. If Adji’s loved ones didn’t speak English well, or if they were simply uncomfortable with American reporters prying into their lives, there’s going to be less information about him, and thus, less articles. The Cummings family has been very open to the press — maybe a bit too much so, even, as they seem to use the news against one another. Also, their soap-operaish antics (custody battle and nasty allegations between Haleigh’s parents, Dad’s underage girlfriend, Dad putting a decapitated rat in his brother-in-law’s mailbox) make for interesting reading, though they detract from Haleigh herself.
So you see it’s not just skin color.