By: Essence Brooks
Fear is simply a state of mind. If you perceive a situation, a place, person or activity as being scary then it will be. Life is all about perception, the way you see things. For example, if you say “today is going to be a long & horrible day” then it will be.
I remember as a young girl I had so much fear. Fear in things I’d never experienced but due to others opinions. With one of my parents being strict and the other laid back I was always torn between right and wrong, what I should do & what I shouldn’t and how to think for myself. My mother was very laid back while my father on the other hand was known for sticking to just one way of doing things. He taught me to do things his way and anything outside of that was wrong or crazy.
There was only one way of cooking, one way of cleaning, one way of getting dressed and only one religion that made sense in his mind. I was brought up to believe anything outside of what our family did was strange and we were to stick to what we’ve always known.
For some reason I’ve always had an issue with this way of thinking, which turned out to be a good thing. I’ve always thought to myself “You mean to tell me out of all the different places in the world and all the different families that exist there’s only one way of doing things.” As I got older of course I knew that wasn’t true. By spending time with friends and their families, going to events and meeting new people I discovered so many new things. Sometimes if felt as if I was on a different planet.
I paid attention to how they operated, maintained their household, spent time with each other and how they spoke to each other. I watched my friend’s mother cook and do laundry. I saw that some of my friends had chores and received allowance while others did not. Some got spankings and some did not. Some had to cook their own meals because their parents were always working while others had their meals cooked for them. In observing all of this I realized that 9 times out of 10 they came out with the same results as my family but their processes in accomplishing tasks different.
I say all of this to demonstrate the fact that there is more way than one to do things. Some black homes have a one track mind operation. Never be afraid to think outside the box, be open to new ideas and perspectives. Most of the time growing up in black households we tend to do things one way due to cultural reasons that have been passed down for generations. Try different foods, alternate routes when walking or driving to school or wok, different activities.
We live in a huge world with a tremendous amount of people that have so much to offer. Could you imagine how boring the world would be if everyone on planet thought and did everything the exactly the same? We’d all pretty much be like robots. I encourage you to set aside some time to research and study other cultures, countries, new recipes, ways of life and ideas etc. and do so with an open mind & heart.
We are all unique and have so much to offer the world and to keep our ideas to a hidden would be selfish. Imagine if a scientist held back a formula that could enhance a product or medicine, or if Otis Boykin (a black man) hadn’t invented a control unit for the pacemaker. Or what if Steve Jobs kept his idea of the iphone to himself, or if Garrett Morgan hadn’t shared his ideas which eventually led to improvements to the traffic light & sewing machine.
My point to you is there is nothing wrong with expanding your mind. You do not have to be a product of your environment or circumstance. I encourage you to read and write more which can help expand you vocabulary & intellect. Ask questions. It’s ok to challenge or question our family and friends as long as it’s done in a respectful manner. Asking questions is only going to help you in the long run. We ask questions for clarity and understanding. We’ve all heard the saying “No Question is a Dumb Question.” I know all too well the fear of questioning an adult which in most black communities you’d get in deep trouble for doing.
Lastly, make suggestions. This was something I used to be afraid to do because anything new was automatically shut down or ignored in my family but once I got older I began to do so and others were able to hear my ideas and implement them. The black community teaches children/teens to be seen and not heard. Look at the like this; your suggestion could turn into a new policy or procedure for your job, classroom, or business.
Now I am in no way shape or form advising you to disrespect or disobey your parents or elders. Keep in mind when asking questions & making suggestions that it’s perfectly fine to not agree with a person; that is life and everyone is not always going to agree. Sometime we have to agree to disagree and move on.
Once again I stress that fear is a state of mind. Things can only be scary, strange or weird if you perceive them to be that way. Have a positive attitude when taking on new ventures and get rid of the once track mind mentality. Not being afraid to do and try new things will open you up to so many possibilities. One thing’s for sure once you begin to do this you will create your own identity and tap into who you really are, a beautiful black woman with creativity embedded in your DNA.
No matter whom you are around whether it’s your friends, associates or coworkers etc. NEVER feel inferior to another race. Most things aren’t what they seem to be. Black families are built and based on a strong foundation and you should never be ashamed of that. Most black parents are tough for a reason and most of them do what they do, say, act and think how they do because of how their upbringing and what they’ve been through. Ironically most of the time it’s not their fault; its’ conditioning at its best.