Step on A Crack, Break Your Mama’s Back

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 56
Occupation: Business Owner
Residence: USA
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/28/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Content:

M: Me, I: Informant

I: I don’t walk on cracks on sidewalks

M: You don’t walk on the sidewalks. How come you don’t walk on sidewalks?

I: If I walk on a gridded

M: On the cracks on the sidewalk. Yeah why don’t you walk on the cracks

I: I don’t know. Step on a crack, break your momma’s back. You’ve never heard that saying?

M: I have but for the purpose of this I need it *laughing*

I: I think that’s why. I don’t know is the answer. I really don’t know. It’s bad luck. It’s bad luck.

M: It’s bad luck. But to you, is that actually going to happen or no? Do you believe it to be true or is it just that not that your mom’s back will be broken but that something bad is going to happen.

I: I think I do it half for entertainment. 

M: Uh-huh (agreeing)

I: I don’t think deep down inside I believe something bad is going to happen, but I don’t want to take the chance so I just step over the crack.

Context: My informant learned this as a child and while he may have taken it more seriously back then, it still is a part of his life many years later, just in a slightly different way.

Analysis: I think that it is significant to note that he says deep down he does not believe anything bad is going to happen and yet he still avoids sidewalk cracks to ‘not take the chance.’ This is very common with American superstitions as coming from a country that values science and logic so much, you’d think these would all be rejected giving their lack of evidence. However, we must remember that these aren’t based on science or evidence, but rather group belief. While many people would admit that they don’t truly believe in the superstition, they still choose not to run the risk And may even be entertained by it. This is how I think the logical side of our brain makes peace with the emotional side of our brains. Asserting that you don’t believe it appeases the logical side, but still avoiding the cracks just in case appeases the emotional side.