"Oh, yes. I understand… perfectly. If you’ll excuse me…”
One of the real reasons this story speaks to me is because I went through friendships very similar to this when I was in high school.
I was bullied, pretty relentlessly actually, and it hurt. A lot. And you never feel like anyone can understand your position as a girl - because you don’t see bullying like that in TV shows or movies. It’s always guys being bullied, and the bullying is physical with some name calling.
I was bullied, like a lot of girls, by people I considered my friends. And it’s all psychological - there may be name calling and the bitter poking at your various imperfections to belittle you, sure. You see that touched on sometimes in popular culture. But real bullying, the bullying I experienced, starts out a lot more nefarious than that.
You’re brought into a group of friends, made comfortable enough to call them “friends” to begin with, and then your position is belittled. There’s not room at the table. You’re not as good of a friend that you’re included to birthday parties. You’re not invited to the mall but it’s only because then the others wouldn’t have room. And there’s no turns, it’s repetitive.
You stay, because you want to reach that status of friendship that the others share freely, but it will never happen. And you feel worse and worse about yourself until they stop the pretense all together. But then you’re trapped. They’re in your head.
Anita is in the start of that relationship, but she doesn’t stand down and allow it to slowly eat away at her.
This is the reason Anita became my hero. Because she doesn’t just sit there and take the neglect and abuse. She leaves. She walked out and let everyone involved know that belittling her was wrong and she wouldn’t stand for it.
What I would have gave to have a heroine like Anita do that when I was little. I instead came to appreciate this so much better when I began reading back-issues years later.
I like to think that maybe someone else who needs to see this moment can find strength in Anita the way I do.
Anita Fite is the daughter of Donald Fite (government agent) and Oshi Fite (the daughter of a powerful vodoun priestess). Oshi’s mother had reservations about her marriage to Donald, but gave her blessing upon Anita’s conception. She convinced Oshi to allow her to perform a ritual that would allow the goddess, Oya (representive of female power and guardian of the gates of death) to ‘sponser’ Anita and serve her as a guardian angel. Anita grew up in New Orleans and it quickly became clear she possessed considerable acrobatic talent – something her grandmother told was the influence of Oya. She was given the nickname ‘Empress’, by her mother due to her bossy nature. A few years later, when Don was working for the Justice Department, he almost single-handedly dissolved the underworld organization of a local crime baron. Unbeknownst to law-enforcement, though whispered amongst his subordinates, the baron, Sin Gaaz, was a “bokor,” an evil practitioner of the vodoun arts. Enraged at Fite’s actions, he used his magicks to set their apartment ablaze, and Anita’s mother died in the aftermath while trying to save Anita. Furious at her father for not being there to save her mother, Anita made it all but impossible for Don to take car of her, so he allowed Oshi’s mother to take her in. It was under her care that she was taught the ways of the vodoun. By the time Anita was 13-years-old, her grandmother fell ill and perished, though not before bequeathing to her an “Emperor’s Staff,” a weapon that resembled an escrima stave, but could be split into a set of knives. She told Anita that, since Oya had taken her spirit into her keeping, that she would be able to use it as none before had.
A few years later, Anita and her father had moved to Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Unbeknownst to him, Anita became a costumed vigilante after watching Cisse King-Jones dispatch a thief at the local mall. Inspired by the young woman she resolved to use her skills to help others, taking her mother’s nickname for her as her costumed alias. She first intervened on Young Justice’ behalf when they were framed for defacing Mount Rushmore (the cover for APES’ headquarters), after the organization had kidnapped Secret as a favor to the DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations), and later became a full-fledged member of the team after her father and the group made amends. During her career with Young Justice, Anita finally got her chance to avenge her mother’s death at the hands of Agua Sin Gaaz. Organizing an army of young heroes, Young Justice staged an attack on the island-nation of Zandia, home to numerous supervillains from the world over. Battling Sin Gaaz in his own mansion laboratory, Anita triumphed over her mother’s murderer.
However, Sin Gaaz left Anita with a final parting gift. Though a bizarre fusion of vodoun mysticism and modern science, a booby-trap in the lab forced two spirits out of ghostly “warder” Secret (Greta Hayes), Anita’s teammate, and into a pair of incubation chambers nearby. Upon opening the capsules, the team found that Sin Gaaz had been able to successfully clone Anita’s mother and father. However, they were now in the bodies of infants. Secret’s involvement had ensured that the babies had the genuine souls of Anita’s parents. Their task complete, Young Justice left Zandia, and Anita left her old life to raise her infant parents on her own.
Though she has left her costumed life behind for the most part, Anita has become “Empress” again in recent times, though mostly this has been to aid her friends in times of crisis.
This is one of my favorite father/daughter relationships in comics, and it really sadly gets overlooked quite a bit. I’m going to blame it on the fact that Anita just isn’t that popular of a character (which is itself crazy talk because Anita is fabulous).
Anita was inspired to become a hero after witnessing Arrowette stop a robbery in a mall. She soon started fighting crime as Empress. Her father, Donald Fite, was a highly-trained intelligence agent who had been pursuing Young Justice for quite a while. He quickly realized what his daughter was up to, but instead of trying to stop her or forcing her to fight crime on his terms, he hooked her up with the same teenage hero-ing group he was supposed to be trying to capture. He recognized that Anita was meant to fight the good fight and needed some peers who would understand her experiences as a new superhero.
What made Anita’s relationship with her father all the more noticeable was the severe lack of parent-child relationships within the series. Throughout the course of the series both Arrowette and Wonder Girl struggle to find common ground with their mothers. Red Tornado has a wonderful relationship with his daughter Traya, but since neither of them are main characters, it’s not seen very much. And since Max Mercury never appears in YJ, his amazing relationship with Impulse is never seen in the series.
So on behalf of all of the secret intelligence agents and their superheroic daughters, happy fathers’ day! I hope your dad is not killed and then reincarnated as a baby that you then have to raise.