A Teen Lies Dead, But Who is the Real Killer?

Last week in Charlotte, 16-year-old Tyesha Roberts was charged with the first-degree murder of 18-year-old Laqueda Antoinette Hall. The two had a lot in common. They were young, African-American teen mothers fighting over their baby’s father, who has yet to be identified in the press. I find it interesting that while all of the details about the young girls, their interaction with one another and the horrific details surrounding the incident are becoming known, the identity of the man at the center of the dispute, at press time, remains unknown.

As someone who works with young people, it is not lost on me that a 16-year-old has thrown her life away over some foolishness, and an 18-year-old is dead. Two children are now without mothers essentially because a man didn’t respect them enough to even use protection in this day and age.

While checking message boards, I noticed that people are divided into camps about who was wrong. Team Tyesha is saying that Hall came to Roberts’ home to fight her, so she was asking for trouble. Roberts didn’t mean to kill her, but she was defending herself from a grown woman. Team Laqueda says that even if Hall confronted Roberts, she didn’t have to stab her. After all, Hall was unarmed. Of course there was little to no mention of the “baby’s daddy.” As I read people’s reactions, I thought to myself, who cares? The lives of two young girls are gone forever — one physically from this earth and the other will possibly rot in jail for the rest of hers. What does it matter who was wrong or right?

Someone even had the nerve to suggest that the girls were both wrong for fighting over a man. She postured, “Everyone knows you’re supposed to make men fight over you.”

Therein lies the problem. There isn’t supposed to be violence from anyone in any relationship. The culture of violence in relationships is so normalized that people don’t realize how stupid they sound. We could sit here and blame the media, or violence in television, or celebrities, but I blame us. Adult behavior influences how teenagers behave.

You cannot tell me that these young girls had not witnessed women sharing and fighting over men in their young lives. It is a part of our culture. Even though this behavior is largely attributed to the black community in popular culture, baby’s daddies are all over the place. It goes beyond race and class: John Edwards, Jackie Chan, Mel Gibson, Jesse Jackson, Tom Brady and even the late senator Strom Thurmond are baby’s daddies. I merely use these high-profile examples to demonstrate how unprotected sex, man-sharing and women fighting over men permeate all parts of society. Young people witness this type of inappropriate behavior from friends, family and members of society who should behave better.

It is not surprising that a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old would be fighting over some no-good man. The fact that this “man” is not man enough to face the devastation that he helped cause speaks volumes about this person’s character. Let the two girls take the hit and be dragged through the mud, while he escapes blame and humiliation. Just to be clear, I am clear that Roberts killed Hall. But this unknown man with multiple children by multiple partners does not escape blame. We’ve seen this on talk show after talk show, where women try to destroy each other physically and verbally over some dude, while he sits there in the middle saying and doing nothing. The women are so focused on hating each other that his role in the fiasco goes unchecked.

This is what appears to have happened in this situation. Why would Hall be going over to Roberts’ house anyway to discuss the amount of time the baby’s father was spending with his child? Isn’t that the father’s job? It is his child. How did this discussion turn into a fight? Maybe Hall intended to fight Roberts all along, but over this guy — a man who clearly didn’t care enough about her to not make children with other people while clearly still dating her and who remains silent as she is buried under six feet of dirt.

Which leads me back to what I was saying: There is a culture of violence in relationships that stems from dysfunctional behavior. Most people cannot handle sharing partners. In this day and age with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and the number of crazy people walking around, why would anyone want to be a part of that? Young girls having babies with guys to try to keep them only trap themselves. Who needs the stress of a raging baby’s mother in one’s life? I’ve never met a man worth enduring verbal and physical abuse at the hands of anyone, let alone someone he used to date. If adults don’t think more of themselves than to engage in this type of risky behavior, why would teenagers?

Again, I know that these two girls created their awful situation, but there is blame all around. If we adults don’t stop putting our hands on each other in a perverted version of love, young people won’t stop either. If we don’t stop having ridiculous relationships, young people won’t either. If we don’t stop fighting over men (or women for that matter), young people won’t either. People are not possessions. When will we learn that — and when will we teach it?

This article originally appeared in Creative Loafing, where Nsenga serves as cultural critic. She is also a regular contributor to TheRoot.com.


FaceBook Conversation on Tiger Woods

This exchange was so interesting, that I’m re-publishing it here. See below:

Nsenga Burton Tiger Woods using steroids. BULLSHIT. This shit has gone too far and yes I’m pissed.

Nsenga Burton:  Sorry for the cuss words, but really.
SZ:  nevermind the cussin!! I fully agree…they are doing waaaay to much right now!!!
CS: Wait-why is everyone pissed?
JS: please answer Christine’s questions… who cares what happens to him
NB:  @Christine – there’s now speculation in the press that he uses steroids – essentially if he cheated on his wife, then he’d cheat in sports. Nonsense.
JH:  I must agree slow news days can kill a career
NB: @Christine – there’s now speculation in the press that he uses steroids – essentially if he cheated on his wife, then he’d cheat in sports. Nonsense.
DW: Golf does have drug testing for PEDs so hopefully he’s been tested since his knee surgery. Just because he cheats on his wife doesn’t mean he cheats at his sport. Making no excuses for him, just feel until something proves otherwise we should withhold speculation.
CS: Kilo-please don’t defend that fool!
NB: @Christine: I’m not defending his indiscretions, but his golf playing — yes. He is the best golfer to ever walk the face of the earth regardless of race and to go after him because he cheated on his wife is ridiculous. Michael Jordan is a notorious cheater/womanizer. Noone has questioned his basketball abilities because of this. Shaq. Lance … See MoreArmstrong. You name it – many athletes cheat on their spouses, but that doesn’t mean that they cheat on the game. Those are two very different things and to try and connect them is disingenuous at best and a smear tactic at worse, particularly by people who could not beat this man even as a teen and long before he was married.

I’m witchu on your statements, Ms. B.! The last thing some folks want is for his Cablinasian ass to surpass the Holy Jack Nicklaus. If they can find a way to besmirch his previous 12 majors, then Jack will still be considered the greatest ever.
RP: How else are those white boys gonna explain how he’s been whupping their ass & taking their women for the last twelve years!!!
CS: So let the Caublasians defend him! Save your energy for athletes who admit they are black-if they need defending. If they accused Singh of cheating would you give a darn? So why waste your breath on that Caublasian fool?
DM: Yeah, this is getting stupid. No doubt Tiger got a lil bit of sociopath in him, but let’s tacke one f-up at a time!
NB: @Christine – I get your point. It’s beyond race to me. You’re right. Where are the Caublinasians? 🙂
JD: There is only one and he is in Sweden. As a reult the question I’ve been hearing the most is what do Black people think, are they mad at Tiger, etc.?? Just let him clean up his mess. Next they are going to ask Obama on 60 minutes b/c Tiger was at the inauguration.
NR: hmmm … maybe he DOES use steroids!
JA: thank u christine- i didn’t want to the first to say it
DM: Allegedly, Tiger’s doctor used a controversial — yet legal — therapy on Tiger’s bum knee. There’s no proof so far that anything illegal took place. The doctor’s shady, but that doesn’t make Tiger shady… at least not on the golfing front. Like Kee said, a wife cheater doesn’t automatically translate to a sports cheater. We got a witchhunt …
CL: now THIS is the type of dialogue i have been waiting for. I dont understand why Tiger got married in the first place. Because of who he is and the sport he is dominating and who he married, his infidelity was going to cost him everything. He had to know this, and his advisers are the ones that need to be fired. The interesting question is would…
DM: @ Contrarian… great point! If he’d married LaTasha from Brooklyn instead of Elin from Sweden, we may not be talking about this.

Tiger has always been a robotic, regimented and very scary cat to me. Someone that robotic has got to blow a gasket at some point, but who knew there’d be this much steam, ya know? Tiger went and procured a wife that would complement and complete his public image. When she was all set up, he went out and found the type of women that would satisfy his real compulsions. In this respect, Tiger is not at all unusual. There’s a segment of men who do this everyday; they marry a woman they can put on a pedestal and then they round it all out with a woman (or women) who will accept them in all their griminess. Only difference is Tiger had 11 of these skanks lined up instead of the usual 1 or 2.

NB: @Dee – Preach BSGO!

Get a Job: Extorting Money from Celebs Does Not Work

Here we go again — yet another celebrity has had someone arrested for an attempted extortion attempt. Yes, John Stamos a.k.a. Blackie from General Hospital and Jesse from Full House fame was being blackmailed for photos taken when he was having “relations” with a woman in 2004. This on the heels of David Letterman’s high-profile extortion attempt. Losers take note, trying to extort money from celebrities will no longer work because they are hip to the game. The ability to present oneself as a victim (of extortion) far exceeds whatever dastardly deed he or she might have done (‘infidelity’ in both cases). It seems to me that instead of trying to steal money from celebrities, you might want to do like the rest of us — get a job! Save yourself some time in jail and save us from having to watch more senseless celebrity coverage at the top of every news cycle.