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Just Walk On By Brent Staples Summary

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In his essay, "Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power To Alter Public Space" Brent Staples demonstrates the negative views and stereotypes of black men. He narrates a personal story about the path he takes to understand the effects of his appearance and how it also affects his environment around him. In the essay, Staples describes how he has always been discriminated. This was first realized as a young graduate student when he takes a walk one evening and frightens a white woman who believed he was following her. The world is a hostile and violent place and the woman had a right to be fearful of him, but it troubles him that he cannot change the fact that he was the cause of this fear. He begins to understand that he has the opportunity to change the enviorment around him solely because of him being a…show more content…
Through these actions, he ignores the notion of feeling like a thug while also lessening the aspect of terror felt by nearby people. The whistling allows others to see the accurate representation of Staples. He dresses different, makes himself smaller, less threatening. He 's cautious of the time of day he goes outside and what he wears. “As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken...I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once,” he writes to admit that he’s harmless. Staples effectively persuades his readers to believe that not all black men are harmful. He wants to make more people comfortable around him and less of a negative stereotype. By acting the opposite of a thug that many [white] people make up the conclusion to be, Staples changes his behavior in a way to protect himself because he’s percieved as a thug that could potentially made him a target and a danger to those around him and to himself. Staples concludes in his essay that thugs wouldn’t be “whistling a bright, upbeat from Vivaldi’s Four
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