Commentary: Tamika Huston Still Missing, and Her Family Still Awaiting Public Outcry
Date: Monday, January 24, 2005
By: David Person, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Tamika Huston’s image, a photo in the November/December issue of the NAACP magazine The Crisis, kept peeking out at me from the pile of papers on my desk. Her face is classically black and beautiful: smooth and unlined with bright eyes, a radiant smile and a cafe-latte tone that white women in tanning salons across the nation would die for.
In fact, I kept the page with her photo and story on it long after I’d finished the rest of the magazine. I couldn’t forget the chilling details: This beautiful 24-year-old aspiring singer has been missing since she was last seen on June 2 at a friend’s house. Because she lived alone and has family and friends throughout the Southeast part of the nation, her family members didn’t think much about it at first.
But after none of them had her from for two weeks, they reported her to the police as a missing person.
Now, nearly eight months later, she still hasn’t been found.
“It’s been by far the most difficult experience I’ve ever gone through,” said Rebkah Howard, her aunt and a public relations executive in Miami.
I can’t even imagine the strength it must take for Tamika Huston’s family to wait day after day to learn what has happened to her. It must have been even more difficult after watching and reading as other missing women – Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking, for example – seem to have had the whole world looking for them.
Howard said as much in a posting she made to a message board late last summer on a web site dedicated to missing persons, www.findcarrie.conforums.com. She has been using her professional expertise to get her niece’s case as much media coverage as possible, but has found it a very frustrating experience.
“While the local print and broadcast outlets have been very helpful, I have largely been ignored by national press,” Howard wrote in her posting. “To date, only BET Nightly News has found Tamika's story worthy of coverage. Yet, in less than 12 hours after her disappearance, Lori Hacking had been featured on all the cable news networks, national nightly news broadcasts and newspapers, including USA Today.”
In August, BlackAmericaWeb.com had a story about Huston. Additionally, her story has since been discussed on the Tom Joyner Morning Show as well as other national radio shows and broadcasts.
“America’s Most Wanted” has posted information about Huston on its web site and plans to report her case on its television show soon. And according to what Howard has told me, law enforcement officials in the Spartanburg area have been keeping them informed of every development in the case.
Still, all these months later, Howard is still understandably unhappy with the national media.
“There just seems to be a profile that the media looks for,” she said. “Young, attractive white women.”
Last month Huston’s 25th birthday came and went on Dec. 11. Her family still had no news about her whereabouts.
Today, over a month later, they’re still waiting. “On pins and needles,” Howard told me over the weekend.
Perhaps it won’t be long before Tamika Huston’s family can begin to find some peace. I’m hoping this will be the week they learn what has happened to her.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to wonder why it took so long to get her name in the national missing persons’ discussion. I don’t want to believe that what drew me to her story – her young, classically beautiful blackness – is the same thing that made her invisible to other media.
Like everyone else, I followed the Peterson and Hacking cases. I ached and even whispered prayers for them and their families. I didn’t feel any less for them because they were white. Their race never entered my mind.
Huston’s race did, though. I can’t ignore how much we black people have suffered at the hands of white society and, sadly, at our own hands. Black-on-black crime has picked up where Jim Crow left off.
And shamefully, some black men don’t hesitate to raise their hands to their wives, girlfriends and lovers. Some would rather kill a sister than watch her leave their relationship to live her own life.
I don’t know what happened to Tamika Huston. But I do know that her case needed the same media scrutiny that the Peterson and Hacking cases got. She and her family are as deserving of support and justice as their families are.
There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to Huston’s whereabouts. For more information, please visit www.tamikahuston.com.