I realized I was trapped in a learned stereotypical behavior. I don’t recall when the idea was given to me, but at some time in my youth I had been taught to fear High St. I remember the stories as a young person; people die there, you will get stabbed, they hate white people. I have no recollection of who told me such things, but I remember them. As I continue to walk my way through Lansing these memories, these urban legends and falsehoods seep to the top like cooked fat in chicken stock. When things are told to you by someone you trust, you believe them. It’s not until a new experience happens that contradicts that learned behavior that you relearn what you’ve thought to be true all along. If no new experience emerges then the old fabrications remain in place. This is what happened to me and High Street. I didn’t realize I was afraid to walk there until I realized I was creating excuse after excuse to not walk there. I finally took some time to figure out why. Then the memories came back. The stories I was told by the older kids whispered to the surface. The fears of my youth surfaced. Throughout this project when a non supported fear comes over me I try to change my perspective by thinking of positive things. I know that High Street had a street calming revamping. I was interested in seeing what had been done. I also know that Cristo Rey Community Center is located on High St. and they provide amazing services to the community including a health center, clothing and food. With this positivity in mind, I set out to walk High St. and like any person who’s ready to face her fears, I took along a buddy! My first attempt to walk this area I had made plans to walk with my friend Stephanie. We were only able to walk half of it but I remember turning to her on our way back and saying; “that wasn’t scary at all”. She laughed at me like I said the most ridiculous thing ever. She didn’t understand my ingrained fear of this neighborhood. On my second attempt to finish this street, I found myself alone. I parked at the north police precinct and again headed north. I walked the streets I had missed the first few times through this area. It often takes me 3-6 times to complete a neighborhood. I walked straight up High. I saw, much like the other streets I walk, people waving and saying hello, utility people out working on the street, residents working on their homes. Just like almost all of the other walks I have taken so far I found no reason to have any fear, in fact, this walk was quite enjoyable. It took me a very long time, but I have finally found a number of contradictions to those silly lies I was told as a child and I am very thankful I did.
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