The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Opinion: Gabby Petito’s death spotlights media racism

Gabby Petito’s death is tragic, but nothing new for Indigenous women.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen CC BY-SA 4.0
Women’s March San Francisco attendees raise fists and hold signs in support of missing and murdered Indigenous women in 2018.

Her body was covered in stab wounds. 

Fourteen, to be exact. As she lay there, at the end of a dirt road, her final breath went unheard and unseen. 

Her name was Katina Locklear, and you’ve likely never heard of her. 

She was a North Carolina Indigenous woman of the Tuscarora tribe whose death, like many other Indigenous women, went largely unseen and uncared for. 

No pretty infographics. No GoFundMes. No hashtags. The social media attention and national coverage that we give to white womens’ deaths were nowhere to be found. 

If you’ve been on any form of social media for the last week, you’ve heard of Gabby Petito. Her death rocked the U.S. and was broadcasted everywhere. An innocent, kind girl swept up by the curse of domestic abuse and cruelty. People around the country are racked with sympathy, sending condolences, setting up GoFundMe fundraisers, and fighting for justice. 

This attitude towards a murder victim is not a negative thing. However, the nation’s fixation on Petito shows that the only victims that America seems to care about are white once again. 

Petito’s death is not the first time the nation, or even the world, has been outraged with a white woman’s death. Take Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive who was abducted and killed in South London in March 2021

Her case raised global attention and prompted a new British policy that improved public lighting and Closed-circuit television (CCTV) coverage and introduced undercover officers in clubs. 

This kind of change is positive. However, it only seems to stem from the tragic deaths of white women. Indigenous victims have not inspired these reactions, and it is unacceptable. 

Indigenous women who are missing or murdered are swept under the rug. According to a report issued by Wyoming’s Missing and Murdered Task Force, Petito’s home state of Wyoming is home to over 700 missing and over 100 murdered Indigenous people. The report also claims that the homicide rate for Indigenous women is 6.8 times the rate for white women. But despite these staggering, alarming statistics, America turns a blind eye. 

Can we, as a society, once focus on someone or a group of people who aren’t white? Does a victim have to be a white woman to generate attention? Is our nation really so racist that we can’t try to decrease the number of families broken apart by their children going missing?

We need prevention measures, education, and, most importantly, coverage to curb the violence against Indigenous women. It shows no signs of slowing down, and the lack of media attention to them doesn’t help either. The United States of America is known as the land of equality and freedom. However, the lack of coverage for missing and murdered Indigenous women once again exposes the nation’s true colors as a country built on oppression and racism. 

There are too many missing and murdered Indigenous women to list in this article.  Yet many in the country know nothing about them. This needs to change. Our society needs to shift its focus from the white damsel-in-distress onto the thousands of Indigenous women who are victims of an equally tragic fate.  

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About the Contributor
Maya Campbell
Maya Campbell, Podcast Producer
Maya Campbell is a senior at Carlmont High School, and this is her third year in the journalism program. She is interested in sports and politics and hopes to become a biotech lawyer one day. She likes playing the drums, running, and cooking. She is also a member of the Carlmont Cross Country and Track teams. Twitter: @ _mayacampbell

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Opinion: Gabby Petito’s death spotlights media racism