Brent Staples’ Black Men and Public Space: The Ability to Alter Space

Topics: African American, Black people, Afro-Latin American Pages: 1 (258 words) Published: October 21, 2013
Angel Johnson
Professor O’Toole
Journal #3
20 September 2012
Black Men and Public Space
In Brent Staples’s “Black Men and Public Space,” he describes his ability to alter space. Being a broad, tall African American, Staples is often feared by others and confused with danger. Staples says, “As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken - let alone hold one to a person’s throat - I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once. Her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny” (226). Staples is a friendly guy, and he struggles to understand why his appearance makes others fearful of him. Even though Staples was aware of his ability to alter space, he didn’t realize the negative effects it could have on him. Staples says, “The fearsomeness mistakenly attributed to me in public places often has a perilous flavor” (228). As an African American in the 1970’s, Staples forgets that his appearance can be mistaken for something terrible, for example a burglar. It is not uncommon for a black man to be confused as a criminal and Staples is aware of that. Staples has learned to be more cautious about his actions around others. He strives to make others feel unthreatened in his presence. Over time, Staples has learned to use his ability to alter space in a positive way for him and others around him.

Works Cited
Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public Space.” The Bedford Reader. Ed. Kennedy, Kennedy, and
Aaron. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 226-228. Print.
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