In Brent Staples essay, “Just Walk on By: Black Men in Public Space,” Staples describes the issues, stereotypes, and criticism he faces just for being a black man in public surroundings. As humans, we tend to evaluate and criticize everything we come in contact with, especially, we evaluate other people and we try to gain deep understanding of them. As Staples describes in his essay, a majority of Americans today, have constructed and monsterized the image of black men in our society. The negative stereotypes that are, til this day, being created of black men have a detrimental impact on black individuals. Black men have been faced with exaggerated images that has depicted them as inhumane and sexually lewd individuals. Furthermore, the media plays a major role in reinforcing the monstrous images of black individuals in our society.
In his essay, Brent Staples succeeds greatly in demonstrating the current monstrous view of black men in America and the fact that racism is still alive today. He narrates a personal anecdote about the path he takes to understand the effect his appearance can have on his environment. Staples initiates his essay by introducing the audience into thinking he is committing a crime. “My first victim was a woman- white, well-dressed, probably in her early twenties…” (Staples). In reality, Staples was just experiencing being prejudged by a white young woman walking down the street. Even though Staples familiarized with the reaction of many, especially women, he was never comfortable with the monstrous images that he was stereotyped by just for being a black man.
Many people have automatically felt frightened when they encounter a black man, as if every black man on Earth is dangerous or hazardous. Bl...
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...Staples mentions this fear in his essay.“After dark, says Staples...I often see women who fear the worst from me. They seem to have set their faces on neutral, and with their purse straps strung across their chest, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled”(Staples). To black men, just like Staples, this sends the message that some people already have their mind made up about what kind of person you are.
The media influences the way people portray others in today’s society. Instead of playing into the easy stereotypical monstrosities, the media should portray people in more realistic ways, not just how we are predominantly thought to be, but how people really are. Like Staples, many other black men have “become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear” (Staples), because of the way they have been portrayed as monsters in our society.
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