November 18, 2009
Some things in life simply defy logic. Was it a drug deal gone bad? Hatred for her daughter’s Caucasian father? An Attachment Disorder? Extortion? Jealousy? Guilt? Functional illiteracy? I’m trying to fathom what would make Antoinette Davis allegedly exploit her five-year-old daughter as a prostitute? Shaniya Davis is now dead, and I’m mad as hell.
Shaniya’s senseless death is a tragedy of epic proportions and an horrific awakening. She was allegedly conceived via a “one-night” fling between her parents, Antoinette Davis and Bradley Lockhart. Lockhart raised Shaniya for years but decided to allow her to live with her mother who had recently found a job and obtained new housing. Several weeks later, his precious child is dead.
Hotel surveillance footage shows 29 year-old Mario McNeill carrying bare-foot Shaniya in his arms. I was sickened by his image. McNeill admitted kidnapping the girl but is expected to plead not guilty to any other charges.
So here are the questions: Where was the community in the midst of all this madness? Did anyone not see something awry in Davis’s home? Did anyone not think it was strange that a wiry-haired dude was checking into a hotel room carrying a barefoot five-year old girl in his arms WITHOUT ANY LUGGAGE? Was he afraid she was going to run away? Was she drugged?
The days of informality are over. Child custody should be done under the protection of Family Law. Lockhart did the right thing without anyone forcing him to do so. However, for better or for worse, we have social service agencies that are mandated to protect children. Had there been a formal court relationship, Davis would have been subjected to a formal investigation before Shaniya was placed in her home.
As an African-American woman, I am outraged at Davis and McNeill’s behaviors. As a mother I grieve for Bradley Lockhart’s loss.
Rest well, dear sweet Shaniya. You have returned home to the angels. Rest knowing that no one will ever hurt you again.