Black Men And Public Space By Brent Staples Summary

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In his essay “Black Men and Public Spaces,” Brent Staples explains that people often find him intimidating because he is tall and black. Staples shares his account of a number of personal encounters, arguing that in each situation, he was misinterpreted as being dangerous because of his daunting physical appearance. Staples asserts that as a result of this misinterpretation, he was continually mistreated. Staples begins his article by describing the events leading up to his life-changing realization that he has inherited “the ability to alter public space in ugly ways (183).” When he was twenty-two years old, Staples found himself one evening, walking behind a well-dressed white woman on a deserted street in a rather wealthy neighborhood. Staples claims that at the time, “there seemed to be a discreet, uninflammatory distance” between the two of them. Staples quickly became aware that she did not feel the same way; she repeatedly looked back at Staples with a worried glance. Staples suggests that in her opinion, the tall, black man walking behind her was too close for comfort. Staples claims that the woman picked up her pace and that “within seconds she…show more content…
Staples moves on to state that he never became comfortable with people who crossed to the other side of the street rather than pass him (183). By providing examples of people desperately trying to distance themselves from him when he didn’t exhibit any malicious intention in his actions, Staples shows that he was misinterpreted as dangerous solely because of his physical
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