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On the heels of Thanksgiving, my Facebook feed was abuzz with the news about the “Sharkeisha fight”. Another street fight captured on video, I thought. Nothing new.
I try to avoid viral videos of people fighting, as I really don’t enjoy watching folks make fools of themselves. The fact that "viral videos of people fighting" is even a thing I have to actively avoid is problematic in and of itself. But after seeing multiple friends comment on the same video, I gave in and clicked play. After watching the sucker punch heard around the world, I felt like I had gotten the wind knocked out of me.
In the video two Houston teens, Sharkeisha and Shamichael, who actually happen to be former friends, are allegedly arguing over a boy. As Shamichael looks in the opposite direction, most likely at the person holding the camera, Sharkeisha punches her with enough force to knock Shamichael to the ground. Sharkeisha then proceeds to ruthlessly punch and kick Shamichael as she crouches down on the ground, unable to move, probably from shock.
The cellphone video was originally posted on Instagram (where it was later removed) but it was too late. It'd already gone viral -- an apt word here. It spread like a disease. Sharkeisha became an instant Internet sensation gaining more than 16,000 Twitter followers almost overnight. At one point, her name became a trending topic. She even made it into the Urban Dictionary, where the definition of Sharkeisha is to punch the soul from another being’s body.
Ridiculous. I wish that I could say that it doesn’t get worse, but it does.
The unfathomable happens.
Shockingly, most of the social media feedback seemed to poke fun at the situation, even cheering Sharkeisha on. It was as if Sharkeisha had won a heavyweight championship, instead of initiating an unprovoked, extremely violent (not to mention potentially fatal) attack on an unsuspecting person.
Are we that apathetic?
It’s obvious something is terribly wrong. Why wasn't the response, "Hey, someone please get these girls some help" instead of “Hey, did you see the Sharkeisha fight? You have to watch it!” By glorifying the Sharkeisha video and other vicious acts of bullying, we are telling young Black girls and boys, with the odds are already stacked against them, that this type behavior is not just acceptable and expected of them -- it'll make them famous. It's like reality TV on steroids.
Sharkeisha is now facing charges. Shamichael has since suffered a black eye, bloodied lip and couldn’t attend school because of vision problems with her eye. While her physical wounds may heal over time, the emotional wounds will always be with her -- and with the community as a whole.
I, for one, regret clicking the play button in the first place. My heart goes out to both girls. Next time I'll "just say no" to videos like these and steer clear of the social media uproar that come with them. Is that enough, though? I don't know.