Stereotypes In Brent Staples's Black Men And Public Space

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In his essay “Black Men and Public Space,” Brent Staples discusses his personal experiences of being an African American male, while coming to the realization of the harsh realities of the stereotypes it carries. Through his anger and frustration, he learned to alter himself in public spaces by making others around him feel less threatened. Not always would it work, such as the occasional double glances he’d get from the person in front of him or a click when walking past someone in their car. Seeing first-hand the effects of being an African American male made me think twice about how they had to present themselves in public due to the decade long stereotypes that the color of someone’s skin can carry. Seeing this happen through my eyes made…show more content…
40). Most of his encounters were with women who believed and would think the worse of him of being a mugger or rapist. He also defines his appearance which contributed to the prejudiced judgment that was against him by describing himself as “a broad six feet two inches with a beard, and billowing hair” (Staples, 1986, p. 40). That would aid in making not just women, but people in general feel even more threaten by him. Though, with the addition of him being an African American male, it made it even worse for him walking at night. One of the experiences that Staples talks about came from his first year in a new city away from his hometown when he started to become more aware of the fear he seemed to convey on the people and his surroundings. He talks about how he would walk across an intersection in front of a stopped car in the darkness of the night and simultaneously “elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver” (Staples, 1986, p. 40). I believe he used this certain imagery to connect with our senses and to almost imagine ourselves in his position and to try to almost feel what he…show more content…
But instead of relating to Staples position I found myself on the judgmental stereotypical side. In some cases I’ve caught myself looking up from my car and seeing an African American male walking past and almost immediately watching him and locking my car doors. As I think back on it now, I feel myself falling for the stereotypical image we think of when seeing an African American male, and being an African American female made me feel even worse. I did not react this way, just with African American males, it was anyone I felt skeptical of. Even though I cannot deny the judgment that I had just on their appearance. The next scene I felt closely relatable towards was the way the women would clutch their purses while walking past
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