The Beauty of “Different” and What I Learned From It

Growing up, I was encouraged to have friends of various races and ethnicities

Community art in Greensboro, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I was fortunate to have grown up in a household with a mother who welcomed all my friends. No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people who drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom. And since my father and later, my stepfather, agreed with her stance, by default, they welcomed them, too.

I had Black, Mexican American, White, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Puerto Rican friends. Boys and girls alike ran up and down our stairs. My mom, on her happiest and most sober days, cooked for us. She would serve our favorite fatty foods around dinnertime, and if a few of my friends wanted to spend the night (weekends only), she’d reach out to their parents and seal the deal.

I was aware of our differences, but they held no weight when it came to love. I had a responsibility in my pre-teen and teenage years, and that was to love everyone. If I showed even an inkling of hatred or a small amount of disdain toward anyone, I had my mother to answer to. Trust me, I wanted no parts of her when she was angry. So, I walked the straight and narrow. I appreciated being able to befriend anyone and learn to love them, too.

No matter their race, creed, ethnicity, or culture, the people that drew me near to them found a home in our home because of my mom.


Me and Susan, so many years ago. Savannah, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I have held some of these friendships for fifteen years or more. I’ve watched these beautiful people get married, have children of their own, and move through life with the gusto and persistence needed to tackle anything coming their way. I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

Me and Theresa (I love to hear her oldest daughter say her name: “Te-Ress-ah.” It’s beautiful.). Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

Even if we haven’t seen each other or been around each other physically, we remain in contact with one another. The beauty of technology these days is an intriguing thing. I can swipe a few words into the text message screen of my cell phone, click send, and communicate with all of them in moments. This beats our older ways of communication, which included the cord or cordless phone, letters, and a hop, skip, and a jump over to each other’s place.

Me and Vic being our silly selves. Atlanta, Georgia, 2016. Photo courtesy of Tremaine L. Loadholt

I see my friendships as stepping stones into a blissful life. These beautiful people have seen me at my worst and love me just the same. We’ve had our debates, arguments, and extreme disagreements, but we’ve pulled through and came out unscathed. If I can appreciate the word different and what it entails, I am sure every human being in America can learn to do this. I don’t think we’re meant to be each other’s enemies.

I don’t believe we’re meant to stand for purposeful things alone. It is my understanding and unmoving stance to stand together and rise together, too.

I am so grateful for constant reminders of embracing “all God’s children” and carrying this info into my adult years.

What we must do is shake whatever harmful actions and thoughts buried deep within us and move forward to a positive outcome. I would love to embrace everyone, no questions asked — no research performed, but during these incredibly divided times, that would not be wise.

I have to be smart in knowing who I can turn to and why. I also have to be as equally smart in those I seek to make allies. They must be equipped with the knowledge of striving for equality by any means necessary. Solidarity should be as close to them as the color of their skin.

If a girl raised in the deep South, brought up by a woman with a fierce love for all people, can love the differences in anyone she meets, surely you can, too.

Start today. It’s never too late.


Originally published in Our Human Family as a response to the Finding Gratitude Prompt via Medium.