19-year-old Kenneka Jenkins’ death is a mystery to many. Although the public has taken to social media with their own theories of what transpired that night, the circumstances of her death are still unclear. For those who may be unfamiliar with the death of Kenneka Jenkins, she was a young woman who attended the celebration of a friend’s birthday with her best friend, at a hotel. After Kenneka went missing from the gathering and her friends were unable to find her, they returned her phone and her mother’s car back to her mother and informed her of the situation. On September 10th, 2017 Kenneka was found dead in a walk-in freezer, that was previously out of service in that same hotel.
The internet had many ways of coping with the breaking news, but the most disturbing and lamentable of them all has been the Irene Challenge. While in the hotel room, Irene Roberts (the friend who was celebrating her birthday) recorded a live video where she thanked a viewer for their Happy Birthday wishes, smoked, instructed other guests on where to park and what room number the celebration was taking place. The videos tend to highlight Roberts’ highly reflective sunglasses and the buffering background music.
It wasn’t enough that the internet was trolling anyone who they thought was connected to or may have been in that hotel room with Kenneka….nope. It had to be taken a step further. People are now mocking Irene Roberts’ Facebook live video, imitating some of the actions featured and coining it the Irene Roberts Challenge. In the recent days, people have gone a step further to start a Kenneka Challenge, where they are placing themselves in freezers and closing the door behind them.
It is deplorable what this world has come to at the hands of people with technology. Somewhere in Chicago a mother without explanation is mourning the loss of her daughter. A mother who probably hasn’t slept comfortably since September 9th because she hasn’t been given a definitive answer as to what happened to her child. Imagine that. Imagine going online only to find people making fun of the circumstances of your child’s death, making light of a loss that has surely changed your world forever. Although the insensitive people of social media have no defense for the Kenneka Challenge, people are justifying the actions of the Irene Challenge by noting that they are making fun of the friend, not Kenneka. But some of us just aren’t here for it either way:
We, as an internet community, need to stop taking deathly circumstances seriously one week and then laughing at them the next. Nothing about the Irene Roberts or the Kenneka Challenge is funny. Not only has a young woman been robbed at any chance of living her life, but the lives of everyone involved have been changed.
And this is why law enforcement doesn’t take communities cries for help seriously; because of this. I’m in no way blaming the victim, but how can we demand justice and answers when it’s turned into a laughing matter or worse, forgotten to ignorance? There are lawyers, investigators and family members trying to gain some closure and people are out here recording videos and creating memes. Even if one is just mocking the carelessness of Roberts as friend, what about that is funny? People turn to their friends for support; friends provide a sense of security. Preying on the that sense of security with videos intended to go viral is not how justice is achieved. Everything is not a joke; that could have been your kid.
In lieu of all that is surrounding the death of her daughter, my heart goes out to Ms. Tereasa Martin, mother of the deceased.