Tag Archives: Monifah Shelton

Youth Talk: What Makes a “Good” Friend? (Inspired from the Kenneka Jenkins Story)

17 Sep

This article is inspired from the Kenneka Jenkins Story. 

For those of you who don’t know about this story, Kenneka Jenkins was a 19 year old young lady who was found last Sunday, September 10th, in a hotel Freezer in Rosemont, IL (Chicago Metro Area) dead. Miss Jenkins was attending a hotel party with her friend where drinks and drugs were served. The friends claimed that they were bringing Kenneka to the hotel lobby when Kenneka asked for her items (phone and keys). As all of the friends went back to the room to retrieve her items, she wandered off by herself.

Prior to the release of surveillance footage, many people suspected foul play. Due to the heavy weight of the freezer door, many people suspected (and continue to suspect) she was locked in it on purpose and that her friends may have had some involvement in her death. It was suspicious that the friends didn’t call the police when they first discovered she was missing (possibly they didn’t want to get busted for having illegal drugs and alcohol in their system, and in the hotel at that). It was also suspicious that none of her friends stayed with her when she was drunk, which allowed her to wander away (though the friends claimed they were drunk too and possibly didn’t realize that they left her).

Some people on social media who claimed to be her friends claimed that she was “set up” for $200 to be sexually abused. Other friends have been making other accusations.

Teresa Martin, the mother of Miss Jenkins, said that Kenneka’s friends lied to her and told her that they were taking her daughter “to the show and then bowling”. She also said their stories changed up every time after this incident happened.

But most of her friends, especially Monifah Shelton, just seem to be overcome with grief and guilt, according to their Facebook posts.

With new evidence (and more to come), it appears that Kenneka staggered down the hallway, onto an elevator, and to an empty kitchen (said to be under renovation by the hotel) by herself.

But even with this evidence, some people still suspect she was murdered. Some people claim to see shadows of two people following her. Others aren’t convinced she locked herself in the freezer because there hasn’t been any video footage actually directly showing that she locked herself in. Some people believe that the videos were tampered with because minutes are skipped (though this is common with sensory cameras that only pick up movement; they do this to save on memory space).

A lot of people are suspicious of the hotel and hotel staff. One of the most appalling things about the case is the fact that hotel staff refused to search for the girl until a missing persons report was filed with the police. Even though the policy says video footage has to be released to police, no one ever said they couldn’t at least search for her or at least call the police themselves. Some people suspect that hotel staff had a hand in her death.

People are also suspicious of the police involved in the investigation. When the mother of Kenneka, called the police at the hotel to file a missing persons report, she was told to wait a few hours to see if her daughter showed up. This allowed too much time to lapse, time someone could’ve been searching for Miss Jenkins. The police and hotel staff searched for her but were unable to find her the first time and gave up. The family resorted to knocking on guests’ doors to find her. The hotel then finally decided to call the police back because “their guests were disturbed”. A police officer decided to go ahead and look at the footage again. A search party went out until she was discovered in the freezer.

Many people suspect the police of not looking for her because “she was a girl of color”.

But overall, so far, we know that she staggered down a hallway towards the freezer. She was under the influence of alcohol (and possibly drugs). More information will be revealed after the rest of the footage and the toxicology report is released throughout the weeks.

This incident has raised many questions about how much we can trust social media, how far people will go with their theories, how competent hotel staff are, how much we can trust police officers to find missing persons, and how much young people can be trusted with their friends.

Kenneka Jenkins Update

Five Facts about Kenneka Jenkins’ case


While everyone was playing Sherlock Holmes with this case, I decided to take a step back and look at the whole picture. Kenneka may have been set up. Someone may have locked her in a freezer. Perhaps she was in there, and a hotel staff member shut the door and turned the freezer on, not knowing she was in there. Perhaps the hotel staff are trying to cover things up to save the hotel’s reputation and everyone’s jobs. The police may have been racially motivated to ignore her. All of these factors should be considered, and if there’s evidence to support it, those people should be held accountable.

But let’s fast forward everything. Arguably, we can all say that Kenneka herself made some poor choices before she met her demise. The poorest choices she made was choosing some of these girls at the hotel party as friends. The real thing that killed Kenneka was her choices in friends.

I’m not saying her friends were not real friends to her. They probably really loved her and supported her. I’m sure they didn’t intend for anything bad to happen to her (well, I’m hoping). Still, there is a difference between a real friend and a good friend.

What makes a real friend? A real friend is someone who loves and supports you. A real friend understands you and is always there when you need them. A real friend seeks to make their friend happy. A real friend may always support you, but this doesn’t mean they won’t lead you in bad situations.

What makes a good friend? A good friend could be a real friend, but also is someone who brings out the best in you. They seek to lift you up, not tear you down. They don’t bring drama and dangerous situations to their friends. They try to steer their friend in the right direction because they want nothing but the best for them.

Young people who have heard this story should learn from this. It is sad that we can’t save Kenneka, but we can save our young people from meeting the same consequences (or similar) by encouraging our youth to make the right decisions for themselves regarding their own lives and who they choose to associate with.

There’s even a difference between a fake friend and a bad friend.

What makes a fake friend? A fake friend is someone who isn’t supportive, who allows you to feel isolated and humiliated, and who puts you down constantly in front of others or behind your back. It is difficult to communicate your concerns with them without you feeling they won’t be your friend anymore.

What makes a bad friend? A bad friend may also be a fake friend, but they also may put you in dangerous situations. They may be toxic, constantly bringing problems to you, and may hold you back from achieving your goals. These people may seem to care about you sometimes, but they care about themselves more.

So much of American media promotes young people partying and making poor choices. Movies and music promote living a wild lifestyle. America’s youth are impressionable. Some of them aren’t mature enough to make the right choices for themselves and some don’t know how to regulate just how much “fun” they should be having. Top this off with peer pressure, and something as light as a party could lead to severe consequences.

Now is the time for young teens and adults to examine whether their friends are real friends, good friends, or no friends at all.

Parents can also help discover more about their child’s friends by asking questions. But let’s be honest, as a child grows older, they will have more freedom and meet more people. Have you, as a parent, prepared your child to make the best decisions for themselves, even when you are not around to monitor them?

I have created a questionnaire/quiz that can help teens, their parents, and young adults analyze their lives/their child’s lives and reflect on who they associate with. Reflect on these questions, answer them honestly, and really think about whether these kind of friends are really the type of friends you’d want to be around or you’d want to be around your child.

At the end of the questionnaire/quiz are “answers” that help you better reflect on your answers so you can better understand the adjustments you might need to make.


1) Your friend is about to attend a “lit” party and invites you to come with them. You attend the party and notice that liquor and several types of illegal drugs are being served there. You’re underage (10 years of age to 20 years of age in the USA). You confront your friend about it, who didn’t tell you beforehand. What would your friend say/do?

a. My friend would say, “I knew they would serve it. Come on. This party is lit! You need to loosen up. I’m here to help you have fun” and would proceed to pass me a drink and a blunt.

b. My friend would say, “I knew it was going to be here, but I thought we could have fun without doing it. We can still have fun at this party, we just won’t drink and smoke” and they would lead me to the center of the room to dance.

c. My friend would say, “I didn’t know alcohol and drugs were going to be served, but I just don’t think it’s a big deal anyway. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, we can leave.” They would wait for my decision, but would return to the party no matter what.

d. My friend would say, “I didn’t know liquor and drugs were being served here. Let’s get out of here and do something else fun”. We would do something else.


2) You are not feeling well after a party-gone-wrong. You either ate or drank something that just didn’t sit right with you. You feel like you want to go home, but you came with your friend in their car. What would your friend do?

a. My friend would laugh at me, tell me that’s part of partying, would insist that they want to stay longer, and would tell me to wait awhile or hitch a ride with someone.

b. My friend would call me an Uber or taxi and tell me to go outside and wait for it.

c. My friend would ask me if I could call someone to pick me up and would wait with me until they arrived.

d. My friend would drive me home immediately.


3) Your friends want to invite you to a college party at someone’s house across town, a college where you know wild things happen. But you are still living with your parents, using their car, and you know your parents won’t allow you to go. What would your friend suggest?

a. My friend would tell me to go anyway. They would tell me that I’m old enough to make my own decisions. They would offer to help me sneak out.

b. My friend would help me come up with an excuse to leave the house or would help me come up with a lie.

c. My friend would help me come up with more ways to convince my parents to let me go. They would offer to speak to my parents for or with me.

d. My friend would just let it go and would think of something else we could do.


4) Your friend drove you to a party that served drinks and she drank a little bit. But she was the one who drove you to the party. You need to get home by midnight. What would your friend suggest?

a. My friend would insist that they aren’t drunk and can hold their liquor. They would insist that I hop in the car.

b. My friend would suggest we stay at the location until they get the liquor out of their system.

c. My friend would suggest that I drive us back home in the car.

d. My friend would suggest we call a trusted relative or friend to pick us up. My friend would come back for the car later. If not, my friend would call a taxi to get us home.


5) You decided to leave a party because people were acting wild and crazy. Some other party-goers begin making fun of you as you leave and they start talking trash about you. What would your friend do?

a. My friend would laugh with them and agree that I’m lame and embarrassing.

b. My friend would tell the others to leave me alone, but would agree that I need to loosen up.

c. My friend would stand up for me and tell them that I can do what I want to do. My friend would see me to the door, but they would stay for the party.

d. My friend would leave the party with me.


Did you get your answers together?

If you chose mostly “a”, your friend probably seems like a lot of fun. Sometimes, they seem to have your best interest at heart because they often worry about you not having enough fun in your life. They are attractive people to be around because everyday is always an adventure. But ask yourself this: Do they really care what happens to you when they drag you out on their “adventures”? If something were to happen to you, would they really be there for you? Do they respect, not just you, but your family and other friends? Does your safety come before their need for “fun”? Do they consider what you’re comfortable with without judging you or thinking less of you?

If you chose mostly “b”, your friend is considerate and does care what happens to you, but they won’t let anyone stop them from having a good time. They seem like good friends because though they are fun, they let you be you. But ask yourself: If they get in trouble, will you be dragged along with them? Do their choices in life affect you negatively? Do they care enough about you to consult with you about dangerous situations before you enter them? Do they have enough sense to recognize a dangerous situation? Do they listen to your fears and support your decisions? Would your friend protect you if your safety was threatened?

If you chose mostly “c”, your friend actually really seems to care about you and wants you to be able to hang out with them with few problems. They may always seem to find a way to get you to have a little daring fun while still making sure you’re okay. But ask yourself this: Do they really make the right decisions? Will you be stuck cleaning their mess up after every event? Do they place you in uncomfortable or awkward situations all the time without apologizing or realizing their error? Do they cause you to worry or question their decisions when with you? Do they always seem to get you in trouble? Are they responsible when dealing with other people? Do you feel safe around them?

If you chose mostly “d”, your friend always seems to have your back. When you don’t like a situation, they don’t like it either. They seem to consider your feelings, they respect your parents and household, and they want you to both have a good time without feeling uncomfortable. Ask yourself this: When they respect your parents, does it mean they don’t want you to have fun? Are they less attractive as friends because they don’t want to do anything too dangerous that will hurt you?

Now, I’m not here to tell anybody what to do. I’m nobody’s mother. I’m not here to tell you to drop your friends. I’m not here to act like I’m an expert on friendship. The purpose of this questionnaire is simply for reflection.

But I do have experience with these types of situations. As a young woman in her 20s, I understand how hard it is to fight peer pressure. However, part of being an adult is sifting through life and discovering the things and people who are and aren’t good for us. Part of growing up is learning to bring into your life the things and people that improve the quality of it. If you know, in your spirit of spirits, that someone is not good for you, YOU have the power to change that. You can’t change another person. You can only change the choices you make.

Parents should always be aware of who their child is socializing with and should do their best to steer their children in the right direction, but we all know they can’t control everything that goes on at school or at parties with friends. It’s very important to teach children ways to be safe when out with others because we just never know in this world.

If you’ve reviewed the following questions above, and YOU feel you might be a toxic friend, maybe this is a step towards self-evaluation. In what ways can you become a better friend? No one wants to be left with the mess they made after making poor decisions, and no one wants to live with the guilt for the rest of their lives.

I believe that as a community we need to work harder to protect our youth and improve our young people’s morals so that situations like this won’t happen. When I see what happened to Kenneka, I often think to myself:

1. Why would her friends allow her to get that drunk? Why would anyone at that party serve her a drink when she is underage? No one seems to want to address this point because so many people are okay with underage drinking and make excuses for it. It’s even considered acceptable now. But how much damage can underage drinking do to an impressionable teen or young adult? That’s what we should be thinking about.

2. Why would they lie to her mother about where they were going, jeopardizing her safety? By lying to her mother, they have hurt their relationship with Kenneka’s family. Did they think they would get away with it? Even if she were alive, she’d be stumbling in at home drunk.

3. What if Kenneka had managed to get her keys and drive. Would she have died in a car accident? Did her friends even suggest that she get another ride home, or were they too drunk to make the proper decisions too? They did not show that they were responsible.

All of these questions, and yet what’s done is done. I often feel powerless in this situation because all I can do is try to help protect other teens and young adults from meeting the same fate. Let’s all hope for healing for everybody and let’s hope that something like this never happens again.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this situation.

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