Samarea Johnson’s world came crashing down at the age of nine after her father passed away from heart cancer in 2010, leaving “a big hole in her life.”
“My life started to change at that point; I didn’t feel myself when he was gone. It just didn’t feel the same not having him there because we were always together, we were inseparable, we were best friends and [his death] just really took a toll on me,” said Johnson.
The death of her father caused her relationship with her mother to change for the worse, leaving Johnson to grieve her father’s passing on her own. According to Johnson, her mother started using drugs again. Later, she began disappearing for hours, days, and soon after weeks.
“My mom started falling back into the old habits that she had before I was born. My relationship with my [two] brothers and [six] sisters weren’t the same either because we weren’t living in the same house anymore. So, I didn’t get to see them as much,” said Johnson.
Johnson is also a survivor of bullying both verbal and physical, an experience that took place both at home and at school. Some of the words that she was often called included “stupid” and “slow” referring to her learning disability and “crack baby,” in reference to her mother’s drug addiction.
The bullying on campus didn’t come to an end until she changed schools.
“[Now] I was able to start focusing on myself and my academics more than I was, instead of going to school and having a load on my back and having people saying something to me, or shoving me and putting their hands on me,” said Johnson.
During this time, Johnson and her mother had trouble finding a stable home which caused them to move around from place to place, eventually leaving them homeless.
“It’s like we were jumping from my aunt’s and different family member’s houses and from place to place. Sometimes, I was sleeping in the car with my mom and at times, I would be with a friend,” she said.
Johnson didn’t find a stable place to live until she moved with her Godmother.
“I met my Godmother through my aunt; she was basically like a family friend of my aunt. She helped me with school and helped me with the relationship [I have] with my mom by helping me not to think about it at times,” said Johnson. “[The summer before high school], my mom called my Godmother and asked could I come and visit for the summer [break].”
The summer visit turned into Johnson permanently living with her Godmother after her mother was unable to find them a place to live.
“Currently, I am still living with my Godmother and her family. The relationship with my mom is still in and out,” she said. “I don’t really hear from her but when I do it’s kind of like a check up to see how I am doing and how she is doing. Every blue moon, I will see her and she will come to my Godmother’s house and spend a night with me. With my siblings, it’s in and out as well, I talk to them on the phone but I don’t see them as much.”
Today, Johnson is a 17-year-old senior at Antelope Valley High School, where she has maintained a 3.8 GPA, a track athlete, and one of five 2018 Beat the Odds scholarship recipients.
The $10,000 scholarship was awarded to her during the Children’s Defense Fund-California’s (CDF-CA) 28th annual ceremony at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on December 6, 2018.
In June of 2019, Johnson will graduate from Antelope Valley High School with her high school diploma. But she’s not stopping there! The teenager will attend college where she plans to major in sports physical therapy and minor in business and social work. Johnson will be the first in her family to graduate from a four year university.
Samarea Johnson is the true meaning of Black Girl Magic!