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

1771 words - 7 pages

In Brent Staples’ "Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space," Staples describes the issues, stereotypes, and criticisms he faces being a black man in public surroundings. Staples initiates his perspective by introducing the audience in to thinking he is committing a crime, but eventually reveals how the actions taken towards him are because of the fear linked to his labelled stereotypes of being rapists, gangsters and muggers. Staples continues to unfold the audience from a 20 year old experience and sheds light onto how regardless of proving his survival compared to the other stereotypical blacks with his education levels and work ethics being in the modern era, he is still in the same plight. Although Staples relates such burdens through his personal experiences rather than directly revealing the psychological impacts such actions have upon African Americans with research, he effectively uses emotion to explain the social effects and challenges they have faced to avoid causing a ruckus with the “white American” world while keeping his reference up to date and accordingly to his history.
Staples successfully begins by not only admitting the possible faults in his practiced race but also by understanding the perspective of the one who fear them. Black males being opened to more violence because of the environment they're raised in are labeled to be more likely to cause harm or committing crime towards women but Staples asks why that issue changes the outlook of everyday face to face contact and questions the simple actions of a black man? Staples admits, "women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence," (Staples 384) however, he continues to state that a majority of black males get involved in and are a part of false accusations just because they're perceived to accept the given stereotype and the outsiders presume that nobody would believe their innocence by comparison to a white female’s. Staples talks about a black male journalist who, while writing a report about a murderer that was from a town in Illinois, was held at gun point by police authorities assuming he was the killer because of a call made by the public’s perception. Staples went through false assumptions daily. Likewise, the women "set their faces on neutral... [and] forg[ed] ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled." (Staples 384) and the “thunking” of door locks as he crossed the streets didn't make that stereotype any less of a hurt. He came through to explain how "over the years he learned to smother the rage [he] felt so often [of] being taken for a criminal"; ultimately he had to mend his ways and initiates ways of being out looked from those labels. A strong argument for the false stereotypes of all black men being involved in criminal and sexual acts is displayed by Ulrich Boser in "The Black Man's Burden". Boser writes about how nine African American...

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