What Kenneka Jenkins’ death can teach us about sisterhood, friendship, and accountability
The saying, “If you go together, you leave together”, were some of the first words to leave my mother’s mouth before I left the house with my sister or friends. That was the golden rule before we left the house, let alone the block. That rule applied to family outings, gatherings, and parties – especially. In fact, it is still applicable.
When I arrived at Bennett College for Women and I was told during orientation that, “You never leave your sister”, those words weren’t hard to receive. When we stepped foot off of the sidewalk on East Washington Street to head over to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University or onto Gorrell Street to be picked up I took seeing my sisters off on their way seriously. Before the luxury of high-resolution cameras built into cell phones, I wrote down and even would even memorize license plate numbers of the cars my sisters entered and asked for young men’s numbers/addresses to be shared with me. This is something that every girl is taught on the campus as they matriculate into womanhood.
In addition to the safety protocols, we are taught how to love on one another. No, we aren’t perfect. Love and respect, nevertheless, are a huge part of feeling the need to protect others.
At Bennett College, we are taught to see one another as ourselves. Good, bad and indifferent. And, while we were all different, we were taught that we were one. At the root of it all, we are sisters.
When I think about what we do and do not know about the unimaginable death of Kenneka Jenkins, of course, I think about the disappointment and heartbreak her family and Black women are feeling around the world. What I also think about is how we as a community need to reinstill and teach the importance of sisterhood to young black girls and women.
“When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if that be so, then it is I who need you either because I do not understand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am.”- Lillian P. Benbow, Past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
It is hard to leave a sister hanging. And, if you do, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life.
Here’s a little advice, Sis:
- Trust your gut.
- If you feel uncomfortable, make that known.
- If you do have to leave who you came with, don’t be afraid to call someone to let them know what’s going on. Be sure to call a car service, share your ride information with someone, and stay on the phone with them until you arrive at your destination safely. That doesn’t make you a coward or less of a woman, it makes you smart.
Although the public does not have all of the facts regarding Jenkins’ death, the fact that some young women can’t conceptualize the value of another young lady’s body and life possibly beyond money pains and sickens me.
Teaching girls and women how to love on each other is imperative. It is time to reclaim our love for one another and the time we invest in sisterhood.
I got your back, Sis.
Photo by @CREATEDBYJARROD from nappy.co