In the short story Black Men and Public Spaces by Brent Staples, the writer goes through a struggle of being viewed as other “Black men” in society such as perpetrators of violence. Although he felt enraged as he stated on pg.316, “Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal”. He begins to understand why people, mainly woman fear him so much.
This is because as he states “I understand of course that 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”. Since the writer understands why people fear him, he tries to change himself so people’s opinion and perception of black men also change.
At this point I strongly disagree with the writer, because I believe you are who you are and you should not change anything about yourself to be accepted in society. In some ways I can connect with the writer in his struggle, because as a Muslim in the 21st Century some Americans view Muslims as terrorist due to ignorance, stereotype, and because of the tragedy that extremist of the religion caused which made the twin towers collapse and ended with thousands of civilians losing their lives.
Although people who look the same, come from the same culture or religion doesn’t mean that they are the same nor act the same. The short story Black Men and Public Places begins with him walking behind a woman on a seemingly scary street. But because he was a black male, tall, and had his hands shoved in his pocket it made him look suspicious.
The stereotypical perception of black men caused the women to speed up, and eventually start running. In this case this black male was innocent and meant no harm, but because of the way society view black men it caused her to be fearful of him. One day as I was walking from a long day of being in Islamic school I had on hijab (head scarf) and a long robe.
A man yelled “TERRORIST where is your bomb?!” I immediately thought how can people be so shallow to think just because I had on a hijab I was automatically sought to be a terrorist. But it all goes back to the stereotypes that society puts on a certain race or culture due to what a few people in those in those categories do. Although the writer feels enraged deep inside, he understands why people view him as a threat, and its because of the many black men involved in crime. So he begins to change himself to make him look less scary, and less of a suspect.
He says on Pg.316 “I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and more classical composers. Even steely New Yorkers hunching toward night time destinations seem to relax, and occasionally they even join in tune.
Virtually everybody seems to sense that a mugger wouldn’t be warbling bright, sunny selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons”. My question to the writer is why should anyone act any different from normal due to societies opinion?. Although it may feel more comfortable there should be no reason to alter what you do in your everyday life to satisfy the people around you. To sum things up, the writer Black Men and Public Places though changing what you do in your everyday life can help satisfy society solely to be accepted by people. I have been in a situation in which I was judged and stereotyped about being what I am, but I never once thought in what way can I alter myself so that society may appreciate me, and treat me as an equal.
Courtney from Study Moose
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