How to Stop the Sharkeisha Effect
It’s been a banner week if your name is Sharkeisha.
First, you gained Internet infamy for a months-old fight that is currently drawing millions of views on Worldstar Hip Hop.
Second, you spawn a social media following rivaling some B-list celebs and even earn a…well…definition of sorts in Urban Dictionary.
And last, people…misguided people…create musical odes to your signature move. What’s that, they call it? A falcon punch?
It even inspired this awful, Blackface homage from a clueless Tweeter @yoasiandaughter for her school’s spirit week.
In case you can’t tell I’m in no way amused by the Interwebs’ adulation of a young girl who pretty much sucker punched and then dog stomped a romantic rival while a wanna-be TMZ staffer watched.
But I’m not going to fall in line with those who are posting the link (getting it even more views) as they finger wag and “tsk, tsk” at our wild youth.
Nor will I spend any further electrons attempting to shame the legions who have helped this clearly angry woman earn an homage a la Grand Theft Auto.
Instead, I will use this week’s social media column as a platform for the wisdom of Kelly Fair, founder of Polished Pebbles, out of Chicago. Through her mentoring of young Black women between the ages of 7 and 17, Fair has made a serious impact as a leader and voice for those who have been silenced.
And as she tells it, she has known many “Sharkeishas,” including some who surfaced decades before these types of antics were available for uploading. Here’s what a woman who has helped over 600 girls find both purpose and peace has to say about the fame of an unfortunate young lady that one blog describes as being named after a sea beast.
Kyra: Do you think that the Sharkeisha situation sends a particularly disturbing message to young girls, particularly in so-called urban areas?
Kelly: I don’t think the problem is just stemming from girls and what they might be seeing. I would guarantee that a lot of the people who are pushing, promoting and following are not ages 7 through 17. The impact goes beyond that. When I started researching this, I heard the name Sharkeisha, Sharkeisha, and I just looked into the foolishness of the fight and why it happened. It didn’t sound atypical, especially when it comes to girl-on-girl aggression. You read the comments on this and it’s like people can’t believe they were fighting over a boy, but women have been fighting about this since the beginning of time.
Kyra: Yes, I mean, I’ve seen girlfights, but my goodness…
Kelly: It was brutal. You could hear the hit. You heard the punch and the kicks. It is a brutal fight, but not too much different than what I saw in high school. The difference was that it didn’t go viral back then. It was a conversation: “Did you know so-and-so who got jumped?” It stayed between a couple of schools. Now, it goes viral and you hear about it across the country. Honestly, Kyra, I have more of an issue with Worldstar Hip Hop. When I read the story, I said “Yay” for Instagram when they pulled the video. But it’s still available on Worldstar Hip Hop. When do the adults who have been out of school 15 to 20 years, when do we stop supporting Worldstar Hip Hop?
Kyra: And this is definitely not just confined to young ladies, and definitely not young Black ladies. What does this say about our society?
Kelly: We celebrate violence and we’re cool with it. And of course it’s more comfortable as a society putting the face of that aggression on a Black girl. Sharkeisha’s mugshot is all over the Web. The choice of image is her mugshot. It’s solidifying the stereotype that Black girls are aggressive. Fighting over boys goes beyond socioeconomic boundaries, but who gets nailed for it? It’s Sharkeisha. We adults know we have work to do, but when does that work go beyond posting it and saying “oooh, these girls, tsk, tsk, tsk.” These are our girls. It’s a new stereotype that was created with Sharkeisha. And it’s a stereotype that only looks at the surface behavior and doesn’t look at what causes it. What is the conversation behind Sharkeisha?
Kyra: So what can we, as you call us, “the adults” do?
Kelly: We need to think about how we like aggression. We need to start talking about advocating to get images like this removed from the Internet. We need more mentoring programs for girls during the school day. We’re almost a part of the problem, but instead of solving it, we want to shame it. It’s easy to come out and blame kids, but this is happening only because we publicize our private lives more than ever. If we had social media 20 years ago, we’d have had just as many Starkeishas. Why are these young ladies– of all races and economic backgrounds– acting out? That is what we should be asking.
Check out Marc Lamont Hill’s Huffington Post Live interview with Sharkeisha’s victim and her mother. Click HERE.
YOUR TURN: How do you suggest we stop the Sharkeisha effect? If we stop viewing links like these, will it deter the youth from this behavior? Or is there something more we can do via mentorship or programs in schools? Tell Keeping it 140 what you think.