“Black Men and Public Spaces” by Brent Staples
In the informative essay “Black Men and Public Spaces”, Brent Staples describes his own experience growing up black in a racist society and discusses the interaction that take place with people. “The ability to alter public space in an ugly way”(302), through racial stereotypes affected him and many others. Stereotypes affect individuals regardless of race, sex, or religion. Author Brent Staples states he has been racially profiled on several occasions and has been falsely assumed to be a threat to the safety of others around him based on race. By specific stories, Staples explains his thesis through out the essay with narratives of incidents in urban America during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Staples first victim was a white woman in an impoverished section of Chicago. In New York, women feared him because their purse straps were strung across their chest during nighttime walks. Another time in Chicago, he is mistaken as a burglar at his place of employment as a journalist with a rushed deadline story in hand. Stables talked about people fearing him, especially white females, and confusing him as a mugger in the surrounding ghetto. He implies that whites usually picture blacks living in bad neighborhoods and being poor. People tend to connect poverty with criminal activity causing fear when walking alone at night. Staples created an emotional essay because the incidents are written in first person and very effective in stating his case that he has been racially profiled. He allowed first hand understanding of what it was like in a specific situation and what he felt. The essay would be lacking without them. An example would be when he wrote “To her, the black
youngish black man- a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket- seemed menacingly close”(302). Staples describe this...
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