Just Walk On By Brent Staples

773 Words4 Pages
Throughout history, race has been a defining factor in our nation’s society. It has created a distinct divider between the diverse people of this country and has been the cause for severe discrimination over the years. However, one can find it baffling that, of all things, the color of a person’s skin is more important than the virtue of their heart. In response, African American writers have taken it upon themselves to speak out. By sharing their own racially influenced experiences with the public, they have depicted the unfair treatment they have received solely based on their skin color; they have shed light upon the fact that stereotypes unjustly influence they way they are perceived in society . The piece “Just Walk On By” by Brent Staples,…show more content…
He begins by setting the scene on a dark street, empty despite one woman, who he refers to as his “victim.” He notes that she was walking a good distance in front of him and describes the obvious tension between the two, even at such a distance. One can easily picture a single street lamp flickering off in the distance and imagine how it would feel to peer out of their window one night only to see a man, hands in his pockets, trailing a woman down a dark alleyway. In other words, it wouldn’t look good. Staples purposely includes this tactic in order to make make his readers aware of their own thought process. While reading the first paragraph of his work, it is immediately assumed that he has intentions to harm or molest this woman. However, that is not the case. In fact, Staples then goes on to give his readers a bit of a wake-up call by specifically stating “that was over a decade ago” (Staples 542). By incorporating this statement into his writing, Staples makes the readers aware that this is not a simple story that he is telling. Instead, it shows that he is addressing a deep rooted issue in American history, that issue being the race-based stereotypes that have been hard-wired into one’s brain over time. Therefore, through his use of imagery, Staples caused his readers to become more aware of the stereotypes they hold within their mind and the assumptions they make based off of those very…show more content…
For example, later in his piece Staples recounts the period in his life where he worked in Chicago as a journalist. He vividly describes how he had come into work one day in a bit of a hurry due to a looming deadline. However, it turns out he has been mistaken for a burglar and was pursued by security. With no way to identify himself, Staples has to only hope to get to his editor’s office before he is caught, otherwise he wouldn’t have someone to vouch for his innocence (Staples 543). Due to society’s past history, one can be fairly certain that if a white man had acted in the same way, people would pay little to no attention to him. This is due to the overwhelming stereotypes which imply that black men are associated more with violence and theft than white men. Staples even acknowledges this stereotype through his statement that “[he] was indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area from the surrounding ghetto” (Staples 542). This is irrefutably the work of society’s teachings and the constant stereotyping of men and woman based on the color of their skin. If one is unable to distinguish between a good-hearted person and malicious person because both have the same complexion then there is obviously a fault in the system. Staples manages to not
Open Document