On social media, Maylin Reynoso’s loved ones shared images, anecdotes, and prayers when the 20-year-old Bronxite of Dominican descent first went missing on July 27. Elsewhere on the Internet, it was pretty much radio silence. Even after authorities recovered her body from the Harlem River on July 31, media coverage has remained scant. But her community has stepped up. Twelve days ago, Shantal Gonzales started a GoFundMe page in order to help Reynoso’s family pay for funeral arrangements. “Giving Maylin a proper memorial will truly be appreciated by her family and friends,” Shantal wrote on the site. “Please, if you can, just donate a penny. It will help tremendously.” Since then, 199 people have donated enough to surpass the initial goal by almost $1,000.
The Bronx-based skate crew Brujas – a group of female skateboarders fighting the patriarchy and empowering marginalized communities in the midst of rampant gentrification – also paid tribute to their fellow Bruja. “This summer our uptown skateboarding community lost a dear friend, Maylin Reynoso,” the group wrote on Instagram. Brujas provided a safe space for people to grieve. Teaming up with Crime Victims Treatment Center, it held a memorial and safe space discussion that took place this week, according to Vibe. The group invited people to bring candles and photos so they could build a memorial together.
Aside from using social media to pay tribute to Maylin, her community is also using these platforms to call out news outlets for not covering her disappearance and death. In the same week that Maylin’s family learned the young woman died, the media covered the death of 30-year-old Italian-American Karina Vetrano. On August 2, someone assaulted and killed Vetrano as she went for a jog in Queens. As the Huffington Post notes, Vetrano’s tragic death absolutely merits media attention. But so does Maylin’s, especially considering that in the last two years, 14 young black and Latina women have gone missing in the Bronx. (Nine have since returned safely to their homes.)
Maylin’s case – and so many likes hers – emphasizes that people of color just aren’t a priority. This lack of media coverage for women of color is best explained by the phenomenon known as “Missing White Girl Syndrome.” “Often the assumption is that the white girls are quote-unquote innocent victims whereas with poor children or children of color, there’s some nefarious activities involved,” said Dori Maynard, president of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
Ignoring the disappearances and deaths of people of color isn’t just wrong, it’s harmful. Sometimes it’s this media coverage that can make the difference in whether a family sees justice or not.