I'm fortunate enough to have more than one. Each of my best friends occupies a key role in my personal development. What I mean by that is, we share everything without being judged. As people, our differences make us grow closer together, rather than apart.
Do you remember how you and any of your best friends met? Sometimes it's something HUGE and you immediately know that you and that person are going buddies forever. Sometimes, it's small, like the word 'hello'.
That's how I met Joanna. I'd started going to a Catholic High School in a mostly White neighborhood. We always said 'Hello' to each other. Everyday. While our classmates were busy sticking with their 'clique' or being terrified of the minorities in their school, neither of us gave it much thought. We were the best of friends.
A big thing that I will always carry with me was one of my first brushes with racism. We were sophomores. We'd synchronized our classes and always sat together for studies and lunch. We'd make fun of our homework, teachers, and hang out at the mall together on half-days.
One day just before lunch, Joanna was staring off into space, looking very serious. She disappeared for a while. I was worried she had gotten sick again. When she finally came and sat in our usual spot at lunch, I could tell she was in a funk. The first words out of her mouth made my blood run cold.
One of our classmates thought that the Black girls and Latino girls were making our school 'bad' and that the White girls, Joanna included, shouldn't sit with them. It's so easy to freeze up in a situation like this or to go with the 'popular' idea. Joanna didn't. No. She turned into some kind of terrifying, blood-thirsty, blonde hell-beast.
|Courtesy of Alpha coders.|
From then on, I've tried to speak up for others when they're being ostracized, bullied, or taken advantage of because there's someone besides my mom who will do the same for me, consequences be damned. I'm already blunt as the flat side of a shovel, but thanks to my experience with Joanna's Fury, I've become quite adept at squashing rumors.
Thank you for always being fierce, silly, kind and serious when I need you to be.
Happy Birthday Joanna.