Jelani Day’s mother wants the police and media to care about him as if he was a white woman. Day, a Black graduate student at Illinois State University, went missing almost a month ago.
News of Gabby Petito’s disappearance and subsequent murder has led to renewed discussions on the missing Black and other people of color who often go unnoticed. Officially the investigation continues, but Day’s family wants to ensure the public doesn’t forget about him. People reported Day’s car was found two days after he was reported missing.
Carmen Bolden Day, Jelani’s mother, spoke with Newsy on Monday. She is pleading with law enforcement to continue the search. No parent wants to have to make such a plea.
She said there isn’t a lot of substantive information beyond an unidentified body found near a river. Local news reported the body was undergoing forensic testing to identify the remains. Bolden Day says she doesn’t feel like she is getting the help she needs from local authorities.
“I feel like since this body has been found, and as I said, it’s unidentified, I don’t truly believe it is my son,” Bolden Day said. “It appears that help has like ceased. I’m imploring, pleading and asking that the police still pay attention and look for my son.”
Carmen Day asks why her Black son isn’t getting the same concern and attention as a white woman in the Newsy interview. “I was very frustrated with the fact that Jelani hadn’t been getting the coverage,” she said. “Jelani has been missing for 24 days.”
Feeling like the effort to find her son has “slacked down,” Bolden Day said she knew of Gabby Petito’s case and wondered why her son wasn’t seen as worthy of the same attention.
“Her face is plastered everywhere, and the FBI is involved,” she continued. “And I do not understand why Jelani doesn’t get that same coverage; Jelani doesn’t get that same attention..” (Watch the full Newsy interview here).
Pointing out the disparity in coverage and treatment, also known as “missing white woman syndrome,” a term coined by journalism legend Gwen Ifil, doesn’t mean that victims like Gabby Petito should not receive attention. But other people also deserve the same diligence.
Earlier this summer, the family of another young Black man went through a similarly harrowing experience. Quintez Brown, a student at the University of Louisville, went missing in June. After nearly two weeks, the writer and local organizer was eventually found safe and unharmed.
Jelani’s family is hoping for a similar outcome. Anyone with information about Day or who had contact with him is encouraged to call Bloomington Police at (309) 820-8888 and Detective Paul Jines at (309) 434-2548 or email@example.com.
“He is not a nobody; he is somebody,” Bolden Day said. “And I want him to come back home.”
A Disturbing Timeline Of 4-Year-Old Maleah Davis Going Missing After Being Left With Her Stepfather
1. April 30, 2019
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This is heartbreaking to see, especially on #MothersDay. Surveillance pics show the last time sources say Maleah Davis was seen alive. She was wearing a pink tutu and walking into her apartment with her mom’s ex-fiancé. Police say she never came out again. https://t.co/OwSM1roTDV pic.twitter.com/IqzZOFfEoz— Pooja Lodhia (@PoojaOnTV) May 12, 2019
2. May 3, 2019
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WHAT'S IN THE BAG? The mother of little 4-year-old Maleah Davis -- who's been missing for a week -- claims this is surveillance video of her ex-fiance walking out of the apartment with a garbage bag in a laundry hamper. https://t.co/06bhezns09— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) May 10, 2019
3. May 4, 2019
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Media Briefing on Investigation into Missing Child Maleah Davis https://t.co/ce9ZdFrWUZ— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 5, 2019
4. May 5, 20194 of 26
5. May 6, 20195 of 26
6. May 7, 2019
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Maleah Davis has been missing for over a week.https://t.co/xzV6Pso069— NewsOne (@newsone) May 11, 2019
7. May 7, 2019
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4-year-old Maleah Davis reportedly suffered so much abuse she needed brain surgery.https://t.co/Xh8vzzXeO7— BET News (@BETNews) May 18, 2019
8. May 9, 20198 of 26
9. May 10, 20199 of 26
10. May 11, 201910 of 26
11. May 13, 201911 of 26
12. May 16, 2019
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As the search team is losing hope in finding Maleah Davis, Brittany Bowens sat down for an interview. https://t.co/bczsozFkY6— NewsOne (@newsone) May 17, 2019
13. May 20, 201913 of 26
14. May 21, 2019
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Maleah Davis' mother receives criticism for not deleting Instagram posts of ex-fiance Derion Vence, https://t.co/taJcDjGni3— Shay Reed (@tasteeshay) May 23, 2019
15. May 24, 201915 of 26
16. May 30
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Quanell X cut ties with Maleah Davis' mother, Brittany Bowens, and is now speaking out.https://t.co/SihHqzp5UZ— NewsOne (@newsone) May 31, 2019
17. May 31
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Maleah Davis’ stepfather, Derion Vence, has reportedly confessed to where the 4-year-old girl’s body is and what happened to her. https://t.co/XWPk9d8t4V— NewsOne (@newsone) May 31, 2019
18. May 31
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BLACK BAG & BONES FOUND - A gruesome discovery has been made in the search for 4 year old Maleah Davis. Authorities say the unidentified remains were discovered in Fulton, Arkansas. Details as we get them -> https://t.co/tYnGHxCwF4. #BREAKING #MaleahDavis #abc13 #hounews pic.twitter.com/FnP1l8NxWu— Steve Campion (@SteveABC13) May 31, 2019
19. June 3
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JUST IN: remains found in Arkansas are in fact those of 4 year old Maleah Davis, Medical Examiner confirms pic.twitter.com/pv34GcWSVG— Janel Forte (@JanelForte) June 3, 2019
20. June 420 of 26
21. June 8
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Maleah Davis memorial!!!! Balloons and bubbles in her honor!!!! pic.twitter.com/9yppIuL8TZ— Kenley Hargett is on the job (@kenleyontv) June 9, 2019
22. June 922 of 26
23. June 923 of 26
24. June 9
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Thousands of people marched from in honor of #MaleahDavis, the 4-year-old girl who went missing in May & whose body was found tossed along an Arkansas road last week. #Houston declared today "Maleah Davis Day," and wore pink in her honor. #hounews @HoustonChron #photojournalism pic.twitter.com/73tO9DbUmX— Godofredo A. Vásquez (@godovasquez) June 9, 2019
25. June 925 of 26
Jelani Day’s Mother Wants Her Son To Get The Same Attention As Gabby Petito was originally published on newsone.com