In the article Black Men and Public Space written by Brent Staples, he shares his experience being a misconceived African American living in major cities Chicago and New York. Having generic traits of a “youngish black man- a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair” (Staples 520), he was often misunderstood for a thug; particularly when he roamed around the streets sundown. His first encounter being mistaken as a brute happened in Chicago. He turned around the corner into a rather quiet street in a neighborhood of the upper class, coincidentally walking behind a lady who was described by Staples as “white, well dressed, probably in her late twenties”. It was when she initially picked up her pace, and eventually fled on foot soon after realizing the presence of a seemingly suspicious man walking harmlessly behind her. …show more content…
However in reality, he was merely an innocent young man who was suffering from insomnia; eventually arriving to mixed feelings all at once. Nevertheless, Staples understands that the fear from women as such do not surface out of nothing. It has become common to relate violence to young black men, and women are especially susceptible victims of such tyranny. In my opinion, this is an informative essay. In the three pages of context, the author shares his experiences and opinions on the topic of being a black man in the United States. He does not particularly stand on one side of the subject; he explains his understanding of the reason as to why women have reacted the way they did. Staples simply projects his thoughts, without asking the audience to pick a side. Plus, an action was not called to be taken, which would have been done if it was a persuasive
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Racism existed for quite a long period of time, from slavery to this current era. Black males were historically perceived as slaves, criminals, and rebels by other races. Regardless of what other races perceive of black males, there are some that act opposite of those perceptions, and Brent Staples proves this in his essay "Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space" by listing the stereotypical perceptions of black males, actual behaviors of black males, and stating what he, a black male himself, feels and does in response to those perceptions. Past actions of black males had altered how some of the other races viewed them, causing misjudgment. Staples were a victim of this misjudgment in 1973-74 when he was 22.
Will society ever view African-Americans as people and not as less than? In “Chokehold” Paul Butler will discuss this very idea depth. Butler provides history on why and how society sees African-American men as violent thugs. Butler goes on to explain in detail how the chokehold plays a part in oppressing African-American men and how to avoid the ramifications of the Chokehold, if possible.
In his essay entitled Black Men and Public Space (1987), Brent Staples talks about how people will have a common misconception on the black community by thinking that they are all mugger ,rapist or thugs. Staples supports his claim by telling the reader events/ stories that occured to him and talks about how people will assume that he is a danger to society when in reality he isnt. The authors purpose is to inform the reader that his experiences of being stereotyped is to show the reader his point of view when it comes to these types of situations. Staples writes in a formal tone for an intelligent or free minded person.
“Black Men and Public Spaces” Diagnostic Essay Brent Staples in “Black Men and Public Spaces,” illustrates the inescapable prejudices and stereotyping that African-American men face in America. He does this by relating to his audience through his personal experiences with stereotyping, and sharing his malcontent on how these events have made him alter his way of living. From “victimizing” woman, watching people lock themselves away, and having to whistle classical music to calm the nerves of people around him; Staples builds a picture to help people better sympathize and understand his frustration. Although Staples describes himself as a college graduate, a journalist, and a softy in the face of violence, he details that the overall public deems him a dangerous criminal.
The message Staples wants to convey in his essay is that almost all people have to carry the burden of the stereotype they have, and he pushes this message through his use of ethos and pathos. Staples pushes his message through ethos by his use of expert testimony. One of the writers he quotes is Norman Podhoretz and his essay “My Negro Problem-And Ours”. Describing the fear he had while growing up, Podhoretz writes about how much
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 uses imagery, so the reader can picture it when reading his work, and to help create a sort of dark and lonely tone. The character uses several personal experiences which use a large amount of imagery. This is better shown when staples writes “ As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken- let alone hold it to a person’s throat……”(542), The character feels as though he is being judged for being a certain color when really he is afraid himself of getting hurt; he is also very humble and shy because he is afraid to even harm something that isn’t alive. When being treated as guilty and wrong, shame will follow; the character feels shameful that the lady is afraid of him when he has done nothing wrong.
That it is reality and not just a concept based off of racism. Within these anecdotes Staples uses hyperbole to create suspense and kind of overstate the real issue at hand in order to show how terrible his position truly is. Such as in the opening sentence, “My first victim was a woman - white, well dressed, probably in her early twenties…(542)”. The woman is not an actual “victim” to any physical harm. Nothing happened to her except she feared for possibly her life.
The women’s racism caused her reaction of “running in earnest,” “worried glances” and her eventual getaway, exemplifying the prejudice of a black male. He further demonstrates his “ability to alter public space” when just crossing “in front of a car stopped at a traffic light.” He hears the “thunk” of the driver locking their car regardless of them being “black, white, male, or female.” Staples understands the world is dangerous and people have the right to fear those around them, however, he continues to endure discrimination. But I am the person making those judgements.
Author and editorial writer, Brent Staples acknowledges this issue as well as experience many situations in which people distinguish him from others. Brent Staples message in his essay titled “Just Walk On By” is conveyed to the audience through many rhetorical devices in which he suggests that stereotypes of race and gender can impact someone 's life in the easiest ways. Brent Staples use of pathos creates an emotional connection and pulls the reader into his essay, through his anecdotes and diction. His intro paragraph tells an interesting story, in a way that readers often forget what type of passage they are reading. Staples uses of phrases such as “my first victim”, “seemed menacingly close” “picked up her pace” and notably “running in earnest” (1-2).
Slavery is over therefore how can racism still exist? This has been a question posed countlessly in discussions about race. What has proven most difficult is adequately demonstrating how racism continues to thrive and how forms of oppression have manifested. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, argues that slavery has not vanished; it instead has taken new forms that allowed it to flourish in modern society. These forms include mass incarceration and perpetuation of racist policies and societal attitudes that are disguised as color-blindness that ultimately allow the system of oppression to continue.
He conveys this through his powerful use of diction, even in the first sentence he says “My first victim was a woman-white” (Staples 1). The word victim gives a very dark and scary tone as if something horrible is bound to happen, but as the reader reads along the whole scenario is just the narrator walking through a park at night and the white woman feels threatened and progressively runs away from the man. The narrator is a college student. The main message is that people are still so quick to judge and feel like they are in danger when they are around african american people they’ll in this case run away. It's also a proven statistic by Havard University states that women are in fact scared of men.
Throughout his essay, Staples is able to make the audience understand what he has to deal with as a black man. Staples does this by using words and phrases such as, “...her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny” and “... I was indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area…” (542). By writing and describing how he (Staples) feels, the audience is able to get an inside look into how black men are treated and better understand why society’s teachings, play a vital role in how we see each other. Staples’ powerful writing also allows the reader to take a step back and see how as a society, people make judgements on others based on appearance alone.
“Just Walk on By” Alex Haley, an American writer in the late 1900s, once said “racism is taught in our society, it is not automatic. It is learned behavior toward persons with dissimilar physical characteristics” Although he was famous for his literature, Haley still faced racism for being black. In his quote, he briefly explains why racism is still around, and why people discourage minorities. Similar to another black writer, Brent Staples, a journalist, wrote several essays trailing his life growing up black.
Racism is a topic that has been relevant for many years though our time. Brent Staples wrote "Black Men and Public Space," published in Ms. Magazine in 1986, where he discusses how he became "familiar with the language of fear" (614). Throughout his essay, Staples uses logos, ethos, and pathos to give a reader an insight into the life of a black man in society, which effectively reaches his intended audience, but not his current day audience. Brent Staples starts talking about his "first victim" (613) picking up her pace until she was no longer able to be seen.