You know what was a global tragedy that people barely talked about? The kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in Nigeria. How did we let hundreds of children be taken from school and held captive for years and doing nothing to return them to their families safe? How did many people in the world not even know about this?
I knew about the event because I saw the trending hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. I remember because it sparked a national conversation about black girls going missing here in the United states. I remember hearing about schoolgirls in Africa being taken by a Muslim extremist group.
But I didn’t know what country this was happening in. I didn’t know how many girls were actually taken. I knew nothing about Boko Harem.
I only remember very few blips from CNN across my phone. How can something so major not make major news as much as it did?
I’ll tell you why: because they were poor black girls in Africa.
I still see press coverage for conspiracy theories on the death of JonBenet Ramsey. She died in 1996. Granted, it’s coverage by one of those weird tabloid magazines that used to (or still do?) talk about aliens and UFOs. Still, someone is still talking about a little white girl who was murdered in the 90s. But we can’t talk about hundreds of black girls taken from their school and held prisoner by a terrorist group…
And I feel guilty for forgetting about the schoolgirls. I saw they were taken, and I assumed it wasn’t long before they were rescued. I had no idea they had been held in captivity for years. Only some have been released. Others, we don’t know about their well-being or they have succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome.
I also don’t want to gas up the whole “Muslims are terrorists” sentiment. There are plenty of white Christian extremists/terrorists running around in America. You may know them as the “lone wolf” types with “mental health issues”. They are individuals and definitely don’t speak for their entire race and gender, right??
Beneath the Tamarind Tree: A Story of Courage, Family, and the Lost Schoolgirls of Boko Haram taught me a lot about this story and how many people failed these girls. I’m just grateful for Isha Sesay and her dedication to telling the story of the Chibok girls. Isha puts faces and names and spoke life to just another forgotten headline.
These few girls who had been released had hopes and dreams and fears, just like any of us. And they continue to have hopes and dreams and fears after because what happened to them is just a part of them, not who they are or who they will become.
To the girls still missing: I have not forgotten about you and I want you to know that you deserve more than just survival. I wish you joy wherever you can find it.