Today, I am feeling very appreciative of my mom and the freedom she graced upon her kids. She gave us so much space and exposed us to more than the average person, I’m sure of it now.
When I was a young girl, we would go and visit my Grandma and Grandpa in the Cass Corridor, Downtown Detroit area. The Cass Corridor is where the riots broke out in the heart of Detroit in 1963.
It was a real raw city, indeed.
My Grandpa would walk us to the park downtown where we would feed the pigeons. He was in a very sick phase of his life, and there were many times that he would have to lay down on the side of the street and take a nap.
My sister, Valorie, and I were about 8 and 10 years old. We would just sort of linger there while grandpa napped. We were harassed by all sorts of people.
We learned the subtle art of knowing when to speak and when not to pay any attention. There is a huge difference.
If you look someone in the eye that should not be looked in the eye, you learn quickly what you did wrong. When you ignore someone that you should have spoken to, you learn quickly what you should have done. Trust me, it’s a big deal.
Most of the people I know are afraid of going to areas that seem unsafe. Quite frankly, most people just don’t go. When I was a teenager and driving, I would drive my friends to downtown Detroit. There were some amazing ethnic festivals at The Hart Plaza down on the riverfront. Talk about a place to party and meet people from all over the metropolitan area, this was it.
If my friend’s parents knew they were down there, they would have thrown a fit!
To me, being downtown was not a big deal and it was not dangerous. My Mom worked downtown all of my young years, my Grandparents lived downtown, and it was part of my vibe.
If you aren’t exposed to the diversity at a young age, when will you be?
That, I believe, is the problem with most people who are filled with fear about going to certain neighborhoods. If they’ve never had any experience carrying themselves down a city street, you’d better believe they’re going to show it.
Body language and posture is everything.
If you have no confidence, it will show and you will be an easy victim if anyone were interested.
Just the other day, I was in an area in Los Angeles that I would not necessarily choose to go to. I had bought a Living Social deal and I wasn’t sure of the area it was in. Sure enough, as I drove toward the address, things weren’t looking all that fabulous.
It was a run down neighborhood and the people were definitely diverse and, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”.
I had a voucher and it expired TODAY. Since I was juice fasting, I was going to get my full supply for the day and take them to go–all juice. As I handed the cashier my voucher to pay, he announced that it was dine in only.
Shoot, I had no choice so I decided to sit there and drink a couple hours away. I needed my computer which was in my car.
I walked to my car, which incidently had my bicycle on top of it, and grabbed my laptop and walked back.
There were people of all sorts out there. Some in their yard, some on the street, some lingering in the old garage business on the corner.
They were diverse and it did feel like I was on the streets of Detroit from my childhood.
The beautiful thing, though, was that they were not at all offended by my presence. The tough chick walking by was one of those you just don’t engage. The older woman, who seemed a bit out of sorts and maybe a little intoxicated, was pleasant and a simple smile worked with her.
All I can say is, I am so appreciative of my upbringing and the example my mom set for me.
I appreciate her for exposing me to all the neighborhoods, not just the suburbs.
Fear just wasn’t present in my body when I was out there. All was well.
I guess if you are already an adult and you weren’t prepared to navigate in such neighborhoods, you probably should stay out of bounds until you learn the art of posture. Or, come with me and you’ll be fine.
All is well and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood–wherever it is!