Two teen girls were found dead in Duval County, Florida and now, we wait for answers and the predictable lack of outrage from people who might typically deem a double murder to be cause for such.
According to local ABC affiliate WFST, the bodies of Angelia Mangum, 19, and Tjhisha Ball, 18 were spotted on the side of a road around 1 a.m. yesterday. The bodies were reportedly bound with zip ties, naked and on top of one another.
The few reports about the story have cited the women’s criminal records (neither of which are worth mentioning here). Ball’s sister, Crystal Moore told ABC Action News that the two women were close friends and had been working in the Jacksonville area as exotic dancers.
Heartbreakingly, Ball’s mother Jerlean Moore told ABC “I feel like sometimes that I failed. What could I have done? What could I have taught her better?”
It isn’t unreasonable to expect for a grieving family to wish that their dead loved one hadn’t worked in the sex industry, one where women are often subject to increased abuse and harassment at the hands of clients, employers and law enforcement alike. Thus, there should be no judgment from any of us about Ball’s lament about her daughter’s work. But what I fear will happen here is a general sentiment among media makers and the public that because these women were sex workers, that their deaths are not cause for outrage and fear.
Someone(s) apparently murdered two women and left their bodies on the side of the road for the world to see. We shouldn’t need for them to have been “good girls”—or White girls, or, perhaps good White girls—for this to be cause for national concern. There is a killer, or killers, on the loose.
There is no shame in what those women allegedly did for a living. The shame is the way our society treats the ‘bad girls,’ and that we do not respect their humanity even in death. We could discuss the lack of education and career opportunities that leads young women to the pole, but we’d be dismissing the fact that many exotic dancers choose that path because that is what they want to do. Who are we to judge? Especially considering how many of us are cogs in corporate wheels that hurt people in ways that a g-string never will.
I hope that my media colleagues, fellow feminists, members of local law enforcement and any human being with a shred of decency will treat the story of Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball’s killing with the compassion and urgency that they deserve. Sadly, history has given me little reason to expect that to be the case.
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