StoryCorps Chicago: High school friends help navigate family relationships

StoryCorps Chicago: High school friends help navigate family relationships

Imani and Brittany are seniors at the same suburban Chicago high school. The two girls shared a class together freshman year, but didn’t become close until earlier this school year.

They’re on track to graduate soon: Brittany plans to go into the military, while Imani plans to study nursing. In this week’s StoryCorps, they trade stories about their rocky relationships with their parents and how their friendship has helped them navigate life thus far.

“When my mom had me, she didn’t know she was pregnant with me,” Brittany said, “She was in jail because she got busted with a lot of drugs and they took us away from her.”

Brittany doesn’t remember her dad, even though she has photographs with him. When asked by Imani how she feels about that, Brittany responds by saying it would be nice to find out more about him. “But then I kind of really don’t care,” she said.

Imani grew up with her mom but her dad wasn’t always present. When she was four or five years old, her dad said he would take her to a movie. She sat on the porch and waited, but he never came. Eventually Imani’s mom brought her inside, kicking and screaming. She cried herself to sleep that night, and she says it was the first time her dad ever let her down.

The two girls have learned to protect themselves from the emotional pain caused by others. They show signs of emotional maturity far beyond their years. And they look to each other for comfort: “It’s just nice to know that somebody has your back,” Imani says. Brittany agrees, saying, “It feels good to hear the truth from somebody.”