Jelani Day’s Mother Highlights Racial Disparities in Handling of Case

In Summary

Jelani Day’s mother is upset with law enforcement over the handling of her son’s case and says they never did enough to look for him when she reported him missing.

Black people make up at least one-third of missing person cases, but only 13% of the U.S. population, statistics that resonate heavily with Carmen Bolden Day as she tries to figure out what happened to her son Jelani Day

Bolden Day is upset with law enforcement over the way her son’s case was handled and says she wants to ensure no other Black family endures the lack of respect, compassion and resources she’s experienced. 

RELATED: Activists Address Racial Imbalance in Media Coverage of Missing Women 

“I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to plan a search party, I didn’t know where to look at, I didn’t know who to talk to, I didn’t know how to do anything,” she shared with BNC’s Jenyne Donaldson of her decision to hire a private investigator. 

Bolden Day said she never wanted to be seen as the angry Black woman that was “being uncooperative,” so she was nice to law enforcement for far too long in an effort to avoid what has now become her reality. 

Day, a graduate student at Illinois State University, was reported missing in late August after his family hadn’t heard from him and he failed to show up for class. His body was found in the Illinois River on Sept. 4 but wasn’t positively unidentified until Sept. 23, nearly three weeks later. 

The grieving mother said law enforcement should’ve done more and been straightforward with her regarding Day’s disappearance, adding they “had the nerve” to tell her there was a 50% chance the body was that of her son. 

RELATED: Reports Finds That Black Americans Are Battling ‘Three Pandemics’ 

“They still want to create this narrative that he did something to himself, and he did not,” Bolden Day said. “He was too focused on wanting to become Dr. Jelani Day, to make sure his mom was okay, to make sure his dad was okay, to make sure he was okay.” 

She believes her son’s vehicle being undisturbed means his murderers are people he knows, adding that it had to be more than one person because her son “didn’t want people to know of him like that” but he would put up a fight. 

In the year 2020, there were nearly 30,000 Black women, men and children reported missing in the United States. 

Referencing the disappearance of Daniel Robinson, a geologist missing from Arizona since June, Bolden Day said “that’s ridiculous” he’s been missing longer than her son and she’s just hearing of his case. 

Robinson’s case is another that has been brought to the forefront in light of Gabby Petito’s body being identified only two days after it was found near a campground in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. She was reported missing on Sept. 11, 10 days after her boyfriend Brian Laundrie returned to Florida alone, following a cross-country trip the couple had been documenting on social media. 

“They report her missing, and instantly she’s found within three days. Why do we not get that same help and exposure and assistance and the resources allowed to us?” Bolden Day asked. “I never wanted to make this about race, but if you don’t see the regular disparities in this, you’re blind.” 

RELATED: Appeals Court Reverses Murder Conviction of Black Men Due to Racism 

Bolden Day says her top priority now is receiving justice for her son, and if she has to be the one to bring these racial disparities to the forefront in his honor, that’s what she plans to do. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has since become involved in Day’s case and according to his mother, are searching for his missing cell phone and license plate.

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