Black Men in Public Space Essay

Black Men in Public Space Essay

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In the short essay, “Black Men in Public Space” written by Brent Staples, discusses his own experiences on how he is stereotyped because he is an African American and looks intimidated in “public places” (Staples 225). Staples, an intelligent man that is a graduate student at University of Chicago. Due to his skin complexity, he is not treated fairly and always being discriminated against. On one of his usual nightly walks he encountered a white woman. She took a couple glances at him and soon began to walk faster and avoided him that night. He decided to change his appearance so others would not be frightened by his skin color. He changed the way he looked and walked. Staples dressed sophisticated to look more professional so no one would expect him to be a mugger. Whistling classical music was referred to the “cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country”(Staples 226). The cowbell is used to protect hikers from bears. But in Staples case, it was to not be stereotyped and show that he is harmless. The general purpose of Staples essay was to inform the readers that stereotypes could affect African Americans and any other races.
In my opinion, I agree with Brent Staples and his view on the public when they misjudge him. The way Staples reacted to discrimination was admitting it. He does not seem angry with the public misjudging him. Staples writes “where fear and weapons meet— and they often do in urban America—there is always the possibility of death” (Staples 224). Stereotyping can be dangerous because it may cause chaos and violence in the society. The way he coped with this situation was a good way because it was safe for him. He chose to deal with his problem by accommodating to people...


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...me feel as if what they thought about me was actually true because so many people thought the same thing. Even though I was emotionally hurt, my reaction to this event made things positive. As stated before, I purposely tried to smile and look less intimidating. This got me into a better mood and gave me happy thoughts. People reacted differently to a new me and my emotions were not the same as before when people judged me as a shy and hard to approach girl.
Stereotypes create misconceptions of race. People are quick to judge and can mistaken someone for who they really are. Physical appearance can change the way people conceive who you are and categorize you in a group. Staples technique’s of changing his appearance did not really adjust the way others looked at him. Brent Staples tried to convince others that he was not who they judged him to be.



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