Being Different IS Beauty

September 3rd, 2009 in Life

Don’t you love when you can see something *click* in your child’s eyes? All three of us had this moment when reading this poem this morning.

Different means nobody’s ever the same.

All bodies are different and so are all brains.

Different is what makes this world so great.

Different is never something to hate.

Quiet moments like these are often the best teaching moments. Quiet prodding moments that make you think and reflect. Moments where they see your example as their mother.  Moments where they notice a friend acting a certain way. These are the ones that count the most in my mind.

Some moments are more brash, loud, disturbing, jolting. After we finished the book, I remembered a very life changing moment in my life that taught me difference is beauty and never something to hate.

My family and I were living in an interesting neighborhood in Maryland- one that we loved, but that my parents soon realized was not a place to raise us. I made a friend at school who also lived in my neighborhood.  Her name was Joyce Harris. Her mother was a strong beautiful military woman who was white.  Her father was the stay at home dad, a black man. She was constantly being pestered at school from kids asking where she was from, if she was white or black, always always being pestered. She was so patient.  I still remember seeing in her eyes how it stung every time, yet she was always so patient and sweet in her response

 Joyce liked to come over to play after school, but walking to my house was something I soon learned was a horrid thing for her to have to do. The kids that lived in the two houses across the street were older than us – in junior high while we were in elementary school. And to be honest, they scared us to death.  They were rough kids and we tried hard to stay out of their way. But when they saw her walking down the road to my home, there was no staying out of their way. Usually, she put her head down and we quickly ran inside while they called out names to her.

The last time she came to play at my house was the last time for a very good reason (after this I went to HER home). Those kids must have been on one that day. They began calling her names that I didn’t even understand.  They were talking about her character, her skin color, her parents. She was always so perfect in holding in her emotions and walking away. But when I looked up at Joyce’s face and saw the hurt in her eyes and the tears rolling down her cheeks, I suddenly knew what all those names meant. They started throwing rocks at her and something in me snapped. While Joyce watched in downright horror, I marched my skinny little bright red freckled face over there and started screaming. How in the world could they say those things? How could they think those things about another human being? I still remember those kids’ faces.  I shut them up alright- for the day at least.

But Joyce’s eyes….that is when I knew.  I knew those words that some think to be acceptable, that some use to hurt, that some use because they honestly believe them, would never ever come out of my mouth. How could they hurt a person as beautiful inside and out as Joyce? How could they make her eyes look that way? And those tears run down her cheeks?

The even sadder thing is the kids across the street weren’t a bunch of unruly boys.  They were girls, and to hear those words coming out of girls’ mouths stung even more for some reason. Could they already tell how beautiful Joyce was, how amazing, and already felt threatened and were acting out? Or was it the way they were being raised, to force their anger and resentment out on others by tearing them down?

Joyce’s face and eyes didn’t stay hurt for too long.  She composed herself and asked what we were going to play. This was a life changing moment in my life that made me who I am.

No, I am not glad it happened, but I know that just seeing a glimpse of her eyes during that moment was a changing point in my life.

TO embrace diversity, embrace difference as beauty and to raise my girls in the same way.

Through quiet moments like reading a beautiful poem to their own life changing moments they will have as they grow up.

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