Brent Staples Just Walk On By: Black Men And Public Space

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“Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space” by author Brent Staples, was first published in an American Liberal feminist magazine called Ms. Magazine in 1986. In the article, Staples, an author and editorial writer for the New York Times, explains how he’s been discriminated throughout his life for the way he looks and the color of his skin. He first points out that at times he could tell that people were threatened, or frightened of him, particularly women, because of his appearance. He states that “It was in the echo of that terrified woman’s footfalls that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into-the ability to alter public space in ugly ways” (Staples 1). Staples revels that even when he walked down the street, pedestrians…show more content…
Staples expresses “At dark, shadowy intersections in Chicago, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver- black, white, male, or female- hammering down the door locks”(1). Quotes like this one reiterates the emotion of fear people tend to feel and experience when they are near a black male. By using such emotional language, Brent Staples connected with the readers and made them more likely to agree with him. He even starts off the article by emitting the illusion that he himself is the murder or burglar following behind the footsteps of a young woman who is sprinting away from him in fear of the unknown. In the beginning paragraphs he purposely uses the word “victim” to draw in the reader, and make them believe something might happen to the young woman, when in fact the author is considered the victim. Brent Staples states “As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to raw chicken—let alone hold it to a person’s throat—I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once. Her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny” (1). Him expressing that his appearance can somehow alter public space pulls an emotional response from the
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