Within the past two months, three females were in the presence of one of the three: Friends. Toxic Friends. Frienemies. Three girls who left their homes in the Bronx, Mt. Vernon, and Chicago to hang out and have a good time with friends and besties. Resulting in youth standing at a casket and visits in the intensive care unit. Both are one of the most dreadful journeys to watch as a parent. Returning back home with scars from third-degree burns or on an obituary is not what any of these parents could have imagined.
Jamoneisha Merritt, simply went to enjoy a fun sleepover in the Bronx. Her family sweetly calls her Jamone. Jamone was at a friend’s home and they got into an argument. According to various articles, her friends told her if she goes to sleep, they were going to do something to her. Jamone went to sleep around three in the morning. She woke up screaming as boiling water was being poured on her. Her twelve-year-old friend poured a cup of boiling water on her. She stated it was a prank. She underwent surgery as well as a psychiatric evaluation at Bronx Lebanon Medical Center. She returned home with her soul scared. Was she their friend?
In Mt. Vernon, New York, Shondu Young and Shelima Magett parents of Nyree Young wished their daughter fair well on August 12, 2017. What started out as a house party with friends to celebrate Nyree’s birthday ended in a pink and white balloon Memorial and an all black funeral. Parents shared that they donated Nyree’s organs. Brother Arthur Muhammed from Mosque number 7 in Harlem greeted the church, “Assalamualaikum'” and in chorus the general non-Muslim reply, “Mualaikumsalam.” Meaning ‘peace be unto you; ‘peace be also with/upon you’ in the Arabic language.
Brother Arthur Muhammad continued, “We know that foul play has been involved. No nation can rise higher than their woman. Now our sister was not perfect and that is not what matters. What type of male has the heart to mishandle a female? Listen to me and understand if a man does not know a women’s worth YOU better learn her worth. If you do not feel comfortable “you leave”. Take a picture of the people who are around you.”
Facebook was jumping the next day with facts and fiction jumbled together. What happened? Young adults making threats towards those who are silent. Names being dropped. Accusations from rape to drugs to drinking to her never making it back home to dance with dad. Was she their friend?
This weekend Friday, September 8th Keeneka Jenkins age 19 went to a hotel in Chicago to hang out with her friends. Leaving home around 11:30 pm and heading over to the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare Hotel & Conference Center which was the hangout spot for the night. Small videos of them heading to the party. An associate of Keeneka with fancy reflecting glasses was live on Facebook, receiving calls and telling individuals to park and come to the room. A room where male and females were present. This was viewed more than 3 million times and share about 50,000 times.
Small conversations as the recording was live is assumed to hear Keeneka stating she was not drunk. The story gets jumbled until 1:30 am. Her sister stated that she last heard from her at in the morning. The family was alarmed and called the police to look for her because her friend could not find her. Her friend left the hotel without Keeneka. At one point she frantically went knocking on doors and searching for Keeneka. The police arrived and did a search. No Keeneka. Mom was persistent in finding Keeneka and returned to the hotel again. The police found her in a freezer. The police stated to mom that she was drunk and let herself into the freezer where she died.
Again Facebook was jumping the next day with facts and fiction jumbled together. What happened? Older teenagers making threats towards those who are silent. Names being dropped. Accusations from rape to drugs to drinking to Keeneka never taking a selfie again. Was she their friend?
Their friend was a person who they liked and enjoyed being with. What are the responsibilities of a friend? Should a friend have empathy and regards for human life. Can a friend be a friend without sharing another person’s experiences and emotions? Is being a friend innate or taught? Are there individuals who can not be a friend? Is there a rite of passage before becoming or calling a person a friend?
Have we taught our youth how to be a friend?