Ever since the brutal Sharkeisha beating was captured on video and published on the web, literally tens of millions of people watched it, producing songs, memes and countless jokes. Lost in this craziness is the reality that a teenage girl was beaten and then shamed in front of an entire nation of children and ADULTS.
I was fortunate to sit down with ShaMichael Manuel, the victim of the the brutal Sharkeisha beating, along with her mother, Olevia Henderson. We spoke on the day after ShaMichael returned to school, having to face her peers for the first time since a classmate of hers became famous for viciously beating her while another classmate recorded it.
ShaMichael’s mother summed up everything wrong with the reaction to this video. She told me, “they’re glorifying Sharkeisha like she did something great…Are you serious? My daughter was assaulted.”
But what struck me the most was the maturity and humanity showed by the 17-year-old victim ShaMichael. When I asked her what her message to Sharkeisha and those who watched the beating would be, her three words stunned me. On HuffPost Live she told Sharkeisha, “I forgive you.”
Her mother concurred, saying that “I’m not angry at them. As a mother, we want your kids to do right, but I would hope this will be a learning experience.” She continued: “Bullying needs to stop. Videotaping assaults need to stop, as well as people glorifying it.”
When we share, laugh and mock these videos, we fail to understand that there are human beings on the other end of them. Human beings are being victimized, shamed and humiliated every time we click, share and laugh.
I hope we can look to ShaMichael Manuel and Olevia Henderson as an example of humanity, love and strength during extremely difficult circumstances. And I hope you will watch — and share — their message.