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Black Men In Public Spaces

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Black Men In Public SpacesIn the article “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples, the author explains his personal experiences with society stereotyping him solely because of the color of his skin. He starts off by describing his first experience from over a decade ago that he remembers so vividly. He was walking at night through a fairly wealthy neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois when a white women ran away from him in fear simply because he was walking behind her. Staples states that he feels the reason she was terrified was because she was alone and he was a black man. Over the next year Staples grew accustomed but never comfortable to the sound of car doors being locked as he walked passed them regardless of the driver’s race or gender. Staples became isolated when walking the streets for his fellow night walkers felt they would be safer crossing the road to the other side rather than pass him. Having moved to New York were most people opt to walk, Staples describes how women are constantly on the defense and use the “hunch posture” (page 184) to protect themselves from any sort of prowling danger.

Despite societies biased options of his ethnic minority Staples states that he isn’t angry towards these prejudice people but claims that he understands their fears. “The danger they perceive is not a hallucination. Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence” (Page 184). Staples states that this is because most males from a young age are seduced by the perception of power through fear. “It is, after all only manly to embrace the power to frighten and intimidate” (page 185). For Staples however from an early age he learned through the acts of others being locked away that it was all nonsense. He “chose, perhaps even unconsciously to remain a shadow, timid but a survivor” (page 185). Staples then goes on to tell two more incidents he or people like him have endured simply because of their race. The first was when he needed to kill time, he decided to check out a jewelry store, the clerk immediately excused herself, went into the back and returned with an enormous watch dog.

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