Tammy Kister

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 Neomia Banks State Farm

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By Priscilla Rayford | March 1, 2012

Before her death, she was an after-thought. No doubt she still had fans, but after afailed comeback, her name brought to mind faded glory, an ill-advised marriage,and a history of drug abuse. Now that she is gone, however, one need only say hername and powerful emotions are stirred. Upon the news of her death, I was utterly shocked like somany others. My gasping, “What?!” was immediately followed by desperateinternet searches, hoping in vain that it was just another internet hoax. Social media brought the news of Whitney’sdeath along with the unending stream of clichéd versions of “R-I-P Whitney. Wewill always love you.” Even Dolly Partonsaid it. Come on, Dolly. You too? But Iwould gladly read them all again if I didn’t have to relive the disturbing turnthe messages took, from grief to plain hatred. {{more}} What a dual shock, a secondary sadness to see not only the massivejump to conclusions about her death, but the name-calling and ridicule? Hertalent and contribution to music was not only cavalierly tossed aside, but hervery integrity was called into question.It’s truly sad when another singer immediately, without a doctor’sreport or any other shred of information, proclaim her cause of death, only tohave it followed by two Los Angeles DJs who became so insensitive and indecenton air that they were suspended. I don’t recall this kind of ridiculous behavior when AmyWinehouse was under the influence on stage or too ill to finishperformances. Where was the vigil whenshe passed away from alcohol poisoning?Or at the accidental death of the young actor Heath Ledger in 2008 from “combineddrug intoxication”? It was absent as itshould have been. There was simplygenuine sadness at the loss of their talent, and a collective grief from theirfamilies and fans. Maybe drugs claimed Whitney, maybe not. We don’t know yet. And even if as in Heath Ledger’s case drugswere the culprit, there is no reason for her to be treated disrespectfully indeath. I’m not trying to turn her into asaint. The facts speak for themselves.But the name calling I witnessed by adults was more juvenile than I hadseen of children. I could grasp at anynumber of reasons why her death has been treated differently. But in truth itdoesn’t matter. Whitney, Heath, and Amy suffered from addiction. They were someone’s child. They were loved,respected, and cherished. Addiction kills people every day, fromsuperstars and former stars to everyday people.It doesn’t respect financial status, skin color, height, weight, looks,education, or employment status. If youknow someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol, love them enough to tell them thetruth about their addiction and encourage them to seek treatment.