Embracing differences – Marcus

As a young boy, Marcus’s father taught him that realizing, embracing and discussing your differences isn’t just healthy ­­for you – it’s important for the strength your friendships.

“When I was in elementary school, I lived in a predominately black neighborhood, went to a predominately white school. And I loved, my friends at school were, I had three friends, three white friends that, we were all really close. And once we got to third grade we'd say, ‘Hey all we're having a sleep over, you can come over.’

Everybody's parents were really nice, but my Dad would ask the question, ‘Are there gonna be any other black kids there?’ And as that little kid, I didn't care, I just wanted to go hang out with my friends, but when I went to one of my friend's houses, his sister, older sister, just, I just felt like she didn't want me there. I felt a sense of being distant and different than the rest of my group of friends, and I think that's when I realized kind of what my Dad was asking about and why he wanted to know if I was going to be the only kid there. And looking back at it, I'm really glad that he did ask that question. To make sure that I knew that I was different, that even though we can be friends – and I was really good friends with those guys – we were different.

And I think that is important, and that's what probably what made us good friends, in embracing that difference, embracing that we came from different places, was powerful, and I'm glad that my Dad asked that question, even though I didn't appreciate it at the time. Being able to say, ‘Hey, you are not necessarily the same as the rest of your group of friends, and that's okay.’

And that kinda goes back to the 23-year-old me. Don't change who you are, embrace it, embrace the culture, embrace where you come from and who you are, and just find strength in that.”

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