The tragic murder of Kenneka Jenkins has Black social media on fire and the 19-year-old’s mom is demanding answers. Tereasa Martin immediately knew something was wrong when she was notified by the young ladies her daughter called friends that she was missing early Saturday morning.

Jenkins was reportedly last seen on hotel video stumbling towards the Crowne Plaza O’Hare Hotel front desk in Rosemont, Ill., at 3 a.m. According to Rosemont police and the family, there were several attempts to gather information on her disappearance. It wasn’t until Sunday afternoon when the young woman’s body was discovered in a walk-in freezer in the hotel’s restaurant—an area under construction.

Gradually, over the course of two days, the family has set up press conferences demanding answers over what happened on that night when Jenkins left with friends to attend a birthday party. One of the females who can be seen on social media in the room allegedly worked at the hotel. There is disturbing footage circulating on Facebook that may indicate foul play involved in this young woman’s terrible fate. It is truly sad and has many of us clutching our young adults.

It is a nightmare no parent ever wants to encounter—it is a nightmare that most parents try to shield their children from experiencing. But, how do you keep the “soulless” from consuming those they prey upon? Ask any parent or guardian of a lost loved one (especially due to a tragic incident) and they replay every word, every gesture, every touch, every last memory of their exchange. What could I have done differently to protect my child? It is heartbreaking and it resonates through all of us who are responsible as a “village” to raise the next generation of humankind. What does humankind mean to those who are “soulless”? Questions circulate around the community as we ask the basic questions—who are these friends? What lured them from the city to a suburban hotel room to party with possible strangers? Who are these strangers? Why did they leave Kenneka at the hotel in her car—with her phone and keys in tow? Who does this type of sh*t?

Who didn’t go out with girlfriends at the ripe party age of 18 or 19? But there was a code among “friends”—we arrive together and we will leave together.  No friend will be left behind.  If the Rosemont police doesn’t come up with answers, you best believe the devil is in the details—follow the social media footprints. As the family awaits the autopsy results of their loved one, we all know would there be a ‘different’ sense of urgency by the hotel if she was white?

Don’t hate the players—hate the game.

Who drops their gubernatorial running mate within a week? Hmmm…could it be Daniel Biss? Yep. The Democratic candidate handpicked rising Chicago city councilmen and youngest alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa nearly two weeks ago. It was a strategic move which spoke to the diversity of Biss’s ticket—combining a good mix targeting the Latino, LGBT and millennial demographic. Right? Ramirez-Rosa is not one to hold his tongue and apparently was not fully in agreement of Israel and Palestinians two-state solution. Biss released, “I support Israel’s right to exist, and I support Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. I also care deeply about justice for Palestinians, and believe that a vision for the Middle East must include political and economic freedom for Palestinians.”

Daniel Biss running mate and State Representative, Litesa Wallace (67th District)

The millennial candidate was quickly replaced with an African American female, State Representative Litesa Wallace [67th District] to stand by his side. Sounds quite familiar in this governor’s race. We wonder what her stance is on the Israel and Palestinians state of affairs? Is this a topic that most Illinoisans weigh in on when going to the polls? Biss has raised $2,838,977.98 since June.

Meanwhile, who will become Chris Kennedy’s running mate? The Democratic candidate with the famous last name has had a very low-key campaign—raising $1,817,551.94 (since June 2017) compared to JB Pritzker’s $21,200,634.95 with little or no advertisement. Kennedy has the support of Congressman Bobby Rush, but this may not be enough if Kennedy doesn’t raise his street presence and visibility. He may need to take a page out of the Bernie Sander’s book—when they spend “high” you go “grassroots”.

On the other hand, Tio Hardiman has kept a solid presence within the community and with little reported funds raised. His “gift for gab” has kept him understanding the term, “out of sight, out of mind” despite a slim chance of winning. Yes, but we see you Tio!

It’s still no match for the powerhouse war chest of incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner who sits on $71,629,557.34. The same mistake that Dems made in the last gubernatorial election—assuming Black voters will swing primarily for the party– can be a major misstep. He who listens to the “streets” and fuels the “pockets” of politics, will win this election. Don’t hate the players—hate the game.

Back at the local level, the countdown to repeal the soda beverage tax is on and popping. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is not the favorite among residents with the additional tax in play. Although, obesity and diabetes is the repetitive theme throughout the Bloomberg sponsored commercials—it has set up a major showdown between opponents of the Preckwinkle “paddle.”  Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is collecting signatures for petitions for re-election and a possible run for the board president’s office. I guess it’ll suffice until that Congressional seat is retired by mentor and senior ranking member Rep. Danny K. Davis. Don’t hate the players—hate the game.

Cook County Commissioner, Jerry ‘Iceman’ Butler PHOTO: Mary L. Datcher

Meanwhile, the talk of Cook County Commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler’s retirement is ringing throughout the halls of the 5th floor. Although, it’s no secret the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee may not run for another term, he is very much a presence at the board meetings and Chairs the Health and Hospital committee. Rumors of a possible appointment of Chicago Community Trust executive Bill Lowry by Preckwinkle if Butler steps down is not confirmed nor are the “water cooler” chatter of any endorsements at this point. The 3rd District sits in a unique and diverse area of Streeterville and certain parts of the South Loop and Bronzeville.

Birthday Shout-outs

Belated birthday wishes to the beautiful food and lifestyle journalist, Audarshia Townsend; DJ Malik Shabazz; communications consultant, Damon Smith and producer/engineer, Jeff Jones on September 11. The Godfrey Hotel’s Sales and Marketing Director Sandi Robinson and playwright and JDTOC officer Cassandra Bell celebrate on September 13. My favorite celebrity MUA and friend Triphena Johnson; veteran photographer Malrie Sonier; House music connoisseur Walt McFarland; rap artist/photographer Deshaun ‘Trig’ Adams; Calvin Hollins [Jr.]; brand marketing executive, Sydney Stinson Ferguson and Core DJs Founder Tony Neal throw down on September 14. My talented cousin and actor Vonzell Scott [Jr.], and long-time friend and principal member of Naughty By Nature Kaygee keep the music going on September 15. Columbia College alum and filmmaker David Leonard; Chef Rain Truth and entrepreneur Eldrick Hereford celebrate September 16.

Big-Ups & Congrats

There were some awesome events that I had the pleasure of attending. Congratulations to Congressman Danny K. Davis, Tumia Romero and Sankofa for an incredible job organizing the two-day conference “The State of the African American Male,” held last weekend at the UIC Forum. I had the pleasure of sharing the discussion with moderator Michelle Fifer, Alderman Emma Mitts and others on the women’s panel.

Chicago’s Black power couple Donna and Spencer Leak held their annual summer end backyard soiree at their gorgeous South suburban home. A great mix of socialites, public officials, political candidates and business people enjoyed the Leak’s hospitality and wonderful array of vintage vehicles displayed on the front lawn. Live entertainment by Chicago’s R&B songstress Terisa Griffin and music by Mark Fuller along with Chosen Few DJ Alan King. Check out Carolyn Palmer’s CD Around Town column for a full event recap. I did a quick change over into some jeans and t-shirt for a relaxed night of hip hop and comedy at the Park West.

Hip hop performances by Nature and legends EPMD rocked the stage. Thank you to Knowledge Beckham and Omar Muhammed for taking care of me. It took me back to my shell Adidas sneakers and baby pink and white Kangols.

Beauty Bash Creators Fred Miller, Jr. and Triphena Johnson Photo: Fred Brown

On Monday evening, Darker Horse Creative principals Fred Miller and Triphena Johnson produced the 8th Annual Beauty Bash where they honored great talent in the Black beauty and haircare industry. This year’s event was held at the Hyatt McCormick honoring Hair Trauma Center’s founder Jacqueline Tarrant; celebrity stylist George Robert Fuller and ORS CEO Shawn K. Tollerson. What a phenomenal show! Fierce models strutted to another Chosen Few DJ Mike Dunn’s high energy house music selections. On Tuesday evening, Soul singer/songwriter and musician Frank McComb performed at Room 43. His latest single, “Feelin Some Kinda Way,” features Najee and Avery Sunshine. So much going on in Chicago on the same night, friends and family of Academy Award and Golden Globe winner, Jennifer Hudson surprised her with birthday party at The Promontory in Hyde Park. Across town, WBEZ held a great panel discussion on “Mass Incarceration: What Role Should The Prosecutor Play?” hosted by The Marshall Project. The panel discussion featured Cook County State’s Attorney Kim FoxxIllinois Justice Project Program Director Sharone Mitchell, and Editor-in-Chief of The Marshall Project Bill Keller led by Robert Wildeboer, Senior Editor of WBEZ’s criminal justice desk. People packed the small auditorium at Jones College Prep High School. 

Got a scoop? Send it over via email: mdatcher@chicagodefender.com Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter.

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