Just Walk On By Brent Staples

797 Words4 Pages
Every day black, white, and Hispanic men and women face many different stereotypes. Whether it is appearance based or his or her behavior. Brent Staples tells about a time in his life when he was viewed as a threat, and what he does to avoid coming across as a threat to the people around him. Throughout Staples’ work, “Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders to Alter Public Space,” we were able to see how people perceive others, based on how he or she looks or acts. “Black men have a firm place in New York mugging literature” (Staples 239). Brent Staples was a twenty-two-year-old graduate student just moved to Chicago. Staples’ first encounter happened late at night on the streets of Hyde Park. A woman, white, and in her twenties, was walking down the street. Staples turned the corner, placing him behind her. Although they were a fair distance apart, a six-two, heavily dressed, African American male following her did not sit well with her. “After a few looks over her shoulder, the lady increased her speed, and before we knew it she was gone” (Staples 238). After this encounter and several others of the same sort, Staples decided to change his ways of going about different circumstances in his everyday life. For instance: how he walked on the streets at night, how he walked around others on the street. “I began to take precautions to make himself less threatening” (Staples 241). Adjusting small things, some as simple as whistling songs from Beethoven and other popular classical musicians when he walked down the street. He also would leave a generous amount of space between anxious people waiting for the subways late at night; especially when he changes from work clothes to more relaxed clothing (Staples 241). My encounter with other... ... middle of paper ... ...an words. We have heard this saying tons of times from teachers, family, and friends. This statement is true. Our actions do have a larger impact than we think. I had to change my actions on the court. Saying what I was going to do was not going to help change the girls. I had to change my actions on the court. The girls would have to see me physically change my actions, then hear me talk about what I was going to do. Staples’ and my experience are two completely different cases. My case is sport-related, and his is race-related and had the potential to be a life-threatening situation. Yet they both have to do with our appearance and how we come across to people. Staples’ situation was a huge misunderstanding; however, mine was not. Regardless of our situations we should be more mindful of how we come across to those around us. It has a larger impact than we think.
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