Not only is Chante Burt my Facebook friend from highschool, but she is also my friend in real life. As a result of the illusion of Facebook, where you can be "friends" with someone without really being friends, we knew very little about one another. In the spring of 2012 after moving from Connecticut to Chicago, I answered an ad she put out for a request for models with natural hair. As a photographer, she was in the process of developing a portfolio of women with natural hair.
Our first meeting was awkward, sort of like, Why weren’t we friends in Highschool? Once the awkwardness subsided, we began to bond around our common experiences. Parenting was definitely our common bond, since we both had a child at a young age. We swapped parenting tips, war stories, and encouragement words; reminding ourselves that our children made us who we are today. Each of us were in awe of how great our children were despite the fact that we had them so young. Before I knew it, she was the photographer at my wedding, and my confidant during my time in Chicago. I admire her for numerous reasons, but mostly for the culmination of all of her years of sacrifice and hard work as a mother.
After giving birth to her son at the age of 16, he is now graduating at the top of his class, and will be attending Northwestern University in the fall. He is also Valedictorian of his class at Providence St. Mel Highschool. Academic excellence is nothing new to Chante. She only took off two months from the school (the same highschool her son now attends) before returning and going on to graduate with our class. Though I had hoped to acknowledge her hard work, strength and tenacity with much more fan fair, I wanted to publicly acknowledge her as my hero and friend. We often gasp at the negative news in Chicago, but this is one of the greatest stories out there. I am honored to have her as both a Facebook friend, and a friend in real life.
When two friends understand each other totally, the words are soft and strong like an orchid's perfume.
~Martin Luther King Jr.
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