Throughout the Chicago area, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and scores of others are still missing their loved ones—young Black women and girls who have vanished without a trace, and have not been heard of since. Young Black women like Kierra Coles, the pregnant postal carrier who was last seen leaving her apartment building in October, 2018, or Sheena Gibbs, who was last seen at her home in Roger’s Park just last November. For some families, the wait for answers has been even longer and more excruciating, like the family of Tionda and Diamond Bradley, two sisters who vanished from their Chicago home over 20 years ago. However much time has passed, there is an entire group of missing women and girls whose families are being left to twist in the wind without closure.
To call the phenomenon of missing Black women and girls is a crisis is a total understatement. In 2020 alone, the total amount of women who were reported missing was 268,884. Almost 100,000 of those women were Black. It seems like a mathematical mistake that Black women only make up 15% of the population, yet somehow account for more than a third of the total amount of missing women. And yet somehow, families of missing Black women and girls have had to claw and scream to get a fraction of the attention given to cases of missing white women.
After all, the amount of media attention given to the Gabby Petito case felt like a constant stream of breaking news updates beamed directly to our smart phones—a constant barrage of television interviews with experts in missing persons, full visibility of Gabbi’s face, and a fierce pseudo-evangelism in the smallest details of her disappearance. A nation-wide manhunt was launched for the person of interest in her disappearance, and police were unyielding in their search.
Meanwhile, Karen Phillips, the mother of Kierra Coles, has been unable to get updates in her daughter’s case in two years. “Because she’s the color she is, that evidence don’t mean nothing…Every time they call, they’re on vacation. They have more vacation than anyone that I know.”
In a virtual caucus led by Congresswoman Robin Kelly last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot “And in Chicago, we just have to be honest and say we don’t have a good track record on this topic of finding missing Black women and girls, supporting their families and survivors, solving homicides related to Black women. We absolutely must do better.”
In effort to supplement the search for their beloved daughter and friend, the family of Sheena Gibbs has begun a GoFundMe campaign to raise the monies necessary to fund an independent investigation into her disappearance—a course of action that many families of missing Black women and girls are forced to take when they cannot get the attention or resources their case deserves through typical channels like the media or law enforcement. Even if every family was able to reach their funding goal for the costs of these comprehensive investigations, there are still only a finite amount of private investigators in the world, and hundreds of thousands of missing Black women and girls whose families deserve answers and closure.
Sheena Gibbs is described as 5’9”, 180-pound Black woman with brown eyes and black hair. Sheena was getting ready to leave for a trip to Davenport, Iowa to care for her mother, who has been hospitalized. When Sheena spoke to her family on 11/03/2021, Sheen advised that she would be arriving in Davenport the following day. No one has seen or heard from Sheena since. You can support her family’s GoFundMe campaign here.
Kierra Coles is described as a 5’4″, 125-pound Black woman with brown eyes, black hair, and a medium-brown complexion, police said. She has a tattoo of a heart on her right hand and one that reads “Lucky Libra” on her back. Anyone with information about Kierra Coles can call the Area South Special Victims Unit at 312-747-8274 or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455.
You can follow the story of the investigation into Tionda and Diamond Bradley through the Facebook pages managed by their devoted great-aunt, Sheliah Bradley Smith: MissingDiamondandTiondaBradley & Help Find Tionda and Diamond Bradley