Two best friends who share the same birthday had the best response when they were told they couldn’t be sisters because they didn’t have the same skin color.
Four-year-old Zuri Copeland and Jia Sarnicola were born two days apart (Zuri on June 5 and Jia on June 3), and have been best friends for two years ever since meeting at school in Miami. The two hang out almost daily, and they’re so close to each other that they recently started telling people they are twin sisters.
“They go to plays, the circus, and parties, and together they are a riot—they’re too smart for their own good,” Zuri’s sister, Victoria Williams, 23, tells PEOPLE. “If you could hear some of the conversations they have, you would think they were older than they are!”
When the two girls were recently standing in a face-painting line at a birthday party, they overheard two other girls talking about how they were sisters. So, Jia and Zuri jumped in and told them that they, too, were twins—but the other girls responded back saying Jia and Zuri couldn’t be twins because they weren’t the same color.
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“Jia immediately began crying,” Williams recalls. “But she decided to defend herself and Zuri by saying ‘You don’t know anything! We are twins because we have the same birthday and share the same soul!’ ”
Williams says once Jia shut down the girls’ argument, no one else at the party tried to refute their “twin-ship” claims.
After overhearing what took place, Williams took a picture of the BFFs and sent her family a text message describing what happened.
“My family was very proud of their reaction to the negativity,” she says. “We were all so shocked by the fierce loyalty, but we were also inspired by their beautiful friendship.”
Feeling inspired, Williams took a snapshot of her text and posted it to her Twitter account on November 5, and it quickly went viral.
The tweet received 65,000 likes and hundreds of comments from people expressing hope after hearing about the bond between the young girls.
Jia and Zuri’s story even reached real biological twins who have different skin colors, which is an extremely rare occurrence.
“Actual twins who were born different skin colors have reached out to me, telling me about the struggles of being different complexions,” she says. “Friends of all races have compared themselves to Zuri and Jia.”
One pair of friends who replied to the tweet extended an offer to take the girls out to Georgia and treat them to a day of activities.
During a period of tremendous racial tension in the country, Williams believes the girls’ story shows the power of friendship, and the good that can come when people embrace their perceived differences instead using them as a point of contention.
“I am grateful that this story has become a blessing and testament to others,” she says. “I hope people will begin to have faith in humanity and see that if 4-year-olds are able to maintain healthy doting relationships despite their skin colors, then so can adults.”