Descrptive Essay

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Brent Staples:
“Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space”

In Brent Staple’s essay, “Just walk on by: A Black Man Ponders his Ability to Alter Public Space. He describes how he is predisposed to purposeless discrimination because he is black.
Staple’s shares a series of encounters he had with people who view him a threat. He was a graduate student at the University of Chicago when he began to notice that is presence made people uneasy, because he is a tall black man.

Formatted in 1st person’s perspective he immediately grabs the reader’s attention. In the first sentence of the first paragraph he reflects on his first innocent encounter while walking down the street. He states, “My first victim was woman…” Using dashes to describe her physical attributes, he goes on to tell how she frantically runs away from him. The reaction to his presence enlightened Staples of what he called “the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into.”(par2)

The tone of the essay is gloomy an unsettling, especially because the author expresses that he was somewhat hurt at the fact that he was viewed as a criminal. After drawing the reader in with the first anecdote, he begins anther tale about him moving to New York, where he feels one-on-one encounters are less suspenseful. He mentions an Author by the name of Norman Podhoretz who wrote an essay entitled “My Negro Problems- and Ours”; he also includes an author by the name of Edward Hoagland who also wrote essays and novels on Black men who caused havoc around the city of New York. Having mentioning these men and their works, Staple’s goes on to notice the things they wrote about and the effect they had on people, while living in New York. The Authors wrote about people walking around the city hunched over, eyes on the ground, bracing themselves for an attack by a black man. With no chronological order in tact Staples reverts back to his life in Chester, Pennsylvania, a place where he seen what the writers...
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