20 February 2013
Just Walk on By: Black Man in Public Space
Brent Staples, author of “Just Walk on By: Black Man in Public Space.” discusses when the white woman he comes across one day late at night was constantly turning back as if she feared him for the way he looked. Brent highlights racism that has occurred to him during the 1970s. This encounter happened in an impoverished part of Chicago; he describes himself as a “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” as he was walking late at night he did not understand why this woman was acting strange as if she feared him, and she soon picked up her pace as if running away from trouble. After a decade of the encounter Brent now twenty-two years old and new the University of Chicago still remembers the white woman. Constantly thinking of all the bad things this lady thought of him as he walked behind her, “a mugger, rapist or worse” these thoughts occurred to him and he was embarrassed, he tried comparing himself to all these awful things that would have come to her mind that night but he knew he could never be closely compared to these things. A year after her moved away from his home town, and tried to learn the language of fear. Soon he grew accustom of people crossing the street instead of passing him as he walks down the street. Two years later he moved to New York and often sees women walking the streets of Brooklyn at night that brace themselves as if her were going to attack them “women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence.” Brent lived in Chester, Pennsylvania in a poor neighborhood. Growing up there at a young age in the 1960s Staples has seen much violence and also seen many men go to jail. In the Neighborhood he grew up in there was gang...