Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes
Imagine being a 23 year old male, six feet two inches, broad shoulders, a scruffy beard, and walking through Chicago in the late evening. Oh I forgot to mention one thing, also imagine being African-American. African-Americans have always been assumed to be up to no good or to be big trouble makers. That is a stereotype that we see become reality in some places, but also see to be completely false in other areas. In the essay “Just Walk on By” by Brent Staples, he describes a couple of his encounters with other pedestrians while walking through different cities. He talks about the development of a thug and the mindset of a young thug. Youngsters find out early that the intimidation factor can get you what you want by simply taking it. After the intimidation factor is discovered, the so called “tough guy” is created. Not every boy that learns the intimidation factor is a tough guy, such as Staples. He was shy but managed to survive that way. Some might think this the coward way to go about life, but to Staples surviving is more important than being the tough guy.
Staples talks about his situations and encounters with people avoiding him or mistaking him for something he is not based on his appearance and a stereotype. He is a writer not a thug that will mug you or cause you harm, but because of his size and skin color he is often mistaken for something he is not. Its crazy to think a writer can cause such fear in people just by walking down the street at night. Having people lock their car doors as you walk by must not be a good feeling. Even though the situations he gets into might be humorous, they just show that racism still exists.
The intimidation factor is real. I discovered it at an early age. Before this essay, I have never thought of how it would feel to have people avoid you based on appearance or because of a stereotype. Before...
Cited: “Just Walk on By” Staples, Brent ( http://homepage.smc.edu/zehr_david/Brent%20Staples.htm )
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