Black Men and Public Space

Good Essays
Cesar Augusto Gonzalez
Professor Hargett
English 1101
October 14, 2010
Vicious Cycle Throughout history, literature has served as a way of expression. Human beings have poured out their feelings onto paper, as long as there have been people interested in them. Common themes have risen through the ages, such as the contrast between light and dark. Darkness is known for its negative undertone. In earlier times, we saw darkness as an interpretation of evil; likewise, light represented God and all good. From literature we, as a society, have built what later became social rules, giving rise to things such as prejudice. In Brent Staples essay “Black Men and Public Space” this is clearly shown by the authors own experiences of antipathy and hostility towards him caused by his own self. In “Black Men and Public Space”, Brent Staples begins by coming to the realization of the way he’d be viewed for the rest of his life. He describes feelings of uneasiness towards his newfound self-image. It all came to him one evening in an ally where his tall frame walked behind a young woman. She proceeded to perceive him as a threat to her safety even her life, and race off into the night. Later on his –problem- took a deeper hit on him when even as a professional this image continued to follow him. It evolved into harm for himself when he is mistaken for a thief several times. Toward the end the author learns how to manage this issue by cleaning his image, and controlling his rage toward the ones who considered a criminal.
Consistent rejection can cause a man –or woman to see the world as of one color or the other, to the extremes. Thus creating a situation of self-blame where one might think and accept that every bad incident its their own fault. He is blaming himself for actions that occur without actual intent of the so-called attacker. In “Black Men and Public Space,” Staples writes, “My first victim was a woman” (566). This phrase creates a dark tone that only gets



Cited: Brent Staples. “Black Men and Public Space”. Four in One: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook. Eds. Eduard A. Dornan and Robert Dees. 5th Edition. Boston: Longman, 2011. 167-169. Print

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