Before I get started, please note that I grew up in the 70s. This is when we (people of color) were “black”, not “American of African decent”, “Afro-Americans”, “African-Americans” or any other title that was chosen at the moment for political correctness.
As a black person in America, my dealings with Africans in America have always been a little tense. They have always been really short-tempered people, extremely rude and sometimes downright nasty in their disposition. Because of these dealings, as a black person, I figured “they don’t like and I don’t like them” and have tended to shy away from Africans. But, not any more.
In order to cast judgment on any group of people, we must first understand the people. There is a reason that it seemed that all of my experiences with Africans were very similar which begs to ask the question, “Why?” But, as a we have certain experiences, we automatically judge and judge we will. Well, I have friend who is African. She is from Ghana. The weird part is that she is a co-worker of one of my friends and since we all came together, she has been the life of every party.
One day we were talking about Americans and Africans and the differences in how we raise our children. One thing that she said was that we Americans don’t teach our children to tell the truth. Of course, I was as shocked as you are. I said to myself, “How dare she? Above all things, I teach my children honesty. This is about to be a short conversation… it’s about time to get her coat!!!” But, as she continued, I realized that she was dead on.
You see, we all are in the health and wellness field. We help people to get fit, get in better shape, lose weight and build muscle. This is what we do. Most of the people that we talk to, including ourselves, are either overweight or obese. We are fat.
The problem that we, Americans, have is that we don’t tell the truth and it’s all wrapped in saving someone’s feelings, not wanted to be mean or simply being politically correct. In Africa, the children are taught to always be honest. The truth is that many times truth hurts but truth is the truth whether it hurts or not. What does it look like for me to say that the sky is pink knowing full well that the sky is blue? But, why did I say that in the first place? Because the person is color-blind and doesn’t know colors anyway… I just wanted them to feel good about the sky. No, that’s dumb!!!
The first step that happens in Alcoholics Anonymous is the declaration. Hi, I’m Jackie and I’m an alcoholic. In our business, it’s the same thing. Hi, I’m Jackie and I’m fat. You have to admit that there is a need before you can address it but what kind of life coach, best friend, partner, or whatever am I, if I don’t help you to make the declaration? It’s not RUDE!!! It’s the TRUTH!!!
Earlier in this letter, I stated what it is that we do, which is help people to get fit, get in better shape, lose weight and build muscle. Nine times out of ten, this is the response that I get… “So, you calling me fat?” Did you see fat in what I said? Did I say fat? Or are YOU calling YOURSELF fat? The truth of the matter is that people use indignation as a tool for continued failure. Let me repeat that… People use indignation as a tool for continued failure!!!
Can I be totally honest? Can I really?
I am over 40 years old and in my entire life… I have NEVER met the person who is truly satisfied with their body, NEVER!!! Skinny people want to be fat, fat people want to be skinny, athletic people want to be toned, can I lose weight but keep my booty, can I just lose weight in my stomach because the rest of me is fine… These are the things that we all deal with but as Americans we get ticked off when someone wants to HELP you meet YOUR goals.
The part that is crazy is this… Americans are the only ones that do it. I have friends who are Jamaican, Haitian, West Indian, Dominican, European (not white but actually from Europe), Asian, Jewish and more… And the level of truth that you receive from these folks will blow your mind!!!
So, what’s the wrap-up? How do we fix this?
We didn’t turn into this jelly back, weak kneed, can’t take anything society over night. We grew into that suit. We need to change our thoughts towards our children because they are the ones who will be the catalysts of change. We need to work on them. As babies, they “don’t know any better” and they will tell you the truth. We guide them away from that but no, that’s not right. Nurture truthfulness within them. Teach them HOW to tell the truth in LOVE.
I have a whole new respect for the Africans in American as with all of the other nations that are represented here. We can learn a lot from them if we’re willing to be open…
I love you ALL!!!