COLUMN: With friends like these, she didn't need enemies

Kasey Rhone

I have a wonderful group of friends, and we are able to share our worries and successes. We've even fought. Never in my life have I ever worried or thought that during an argument, one of my friends would attack me, or even kill me. But that's beginning to look like what happened to Shanquella Robinson, a 25-year-old hairdresser from Charlotte.

Shanquella traveled with her friends to Mexico to celebrate a birthday and never returned home. In a video that has since circulated, she's shown naked, being beaten by one of her friends, while the others filmed and encouraged her to fight. These "friends" told her mother she died of alcohol poisoning. The autopsy has since shown otherwise.

What kind of friends are these? What kind of friends include you on a trip, then turn around and savagely assault you? What kind of friends film this assault, rather than trying to diffuse the situation?

I refuse to watch the video. In a day and age when the brutality leveled against people of color is constantly offered up for shock value and clicks, I can't engage with it. I feel awful that some of the last images of this young woman are of her naked and being beaten by people she thought she could trust, whom she called her friends. I'm sorry for her family, who have to deal with knowing those are some of the last images of her.

While the video is sickening, I hope it can be used to find justice for Shanquella. I hope our need to document everything - including a brutal assault that should have been stopped dead in its tracks - plays a helpful role in bringing this family some peace.

This has made me think more deeply about relationships I have with others - what I would do for them, what I would want them to do for me. I am sorry for Shanquella's family for losing her so young, and I hope the ones responsible are held to account for her death. I hope those who witnessed her beating spend the rest of their days reflecting on how they should have stepped in and helped her, instead of filming.

Kasey Rhone is coordinator for the NSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

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