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Black Men and Public Space Essay

In Brent Staples’ personal essay “Black Men and Public Space”, he tells the readers what happen to a young black man in an urban setting. He pinpointed that people often stereotype you because of color, race, gender, culture or appearance. In addition, the author expresses to us that he notices the space between him and other people, such as women on the street. Some people may disagree that women set a certain amount of space when walking by a black man on the street. This statement is not true and public space is not about race, gender, color, culture, or appearance.

Do we as a people stereotype other people because of race or gender? I believe that race plays a big role when viewing other people, either if were walking down the street or walking into the store. We have a specific view of people from other races and even their own. For example, a black businesswoman might stereotype another woman from her own race because she may not have the same attire as her or grew up in a different area. A white businesswoman might look down on another white women who make less money than her like she is no one, which is not true.

But back to Staples’, he once said that a woman cast worried glance at Staples when she saw him walking down the street. Staples found this to be a little strange as he walks too close to the women she seems to pick up her pace of speed after a few glimpses of Staples. In this part of the essay, Staples had a sense that a woman who barely knows him was probably stereotyping him. In addition, he stated that when he would walk in front of a car when people were at a stoplight, men and women would lock their car doors.

In recent news in the put exact month it happened year 2013, there was a famous story about a young boy named Trayvon Martin. Trayvon’s story can relate well with the author personal essay. Just like Staples, Travyon was a young African American boy who was stereotyped by the way he looked by someone of another race. The person that speculated young Trayvon to be dangerous was a Latino man, name George Zimmerman who was well over Trayvon’s age, and thought the young boy had a gun in his pocket and was going to shoot him.

Zimmerman perceived Trayvon to be a dangerous threat to the person of a different race but in reality he was a young boy with a hoodie over his head and skittles in his pocket. Staples personal essay relates to this story because when he walks into a store or down the street people would look at him in a different light. Just because he is young African American man walking down the street or into the store doesn’t mean he will steal, kill, or rape someone. Instead looking down on people of other races than our own, we other need to be optimistic because not everyone is the same.

People shouldn’t have to change their demeanor for other people not to be scared of them because of what they look like or their race. Brent Staples believed that the woman in his personal essay thought he was a rapist, mugger, or worse, he noted that there was a certain amount distance between him and women especially at night. This proves to show that when people are being stereotyped they pay close attention to gender as well as race. You’re less likely to be afraid of a black woman, or any woman, walking down the street at night.

When the woman saw a black man it seemed as if she felt trapped and that the narrator closing in on her only made her more anxious and ready to run. Would the situation be the same if a black woman were walking behind her? I believe the situation would be nothing similar to what the narrator experienced. Most people see women as less intimidating than a man. I know if a woman was wearing a hoodie and walking behind me I would be less scared and intimidated than if a man was walking behind me. I think part of that is our perception of the opposite sex.

I perceive men as stronger than women, no matter what their race is. It’s just the image that we get from the media, our parents, and our surroundings. Either way people are stereotyped everyday, it doesn’t matter if you are black/white or a man/woman. As a whole we need to stop labeling people by the way they look because one day we might mistake the wrong person that appears to be a good a person but in reality they are the rapist or mugger. So before you decide to give off any perception of anyone by the way they look, you should be optimistic and have an open mind towards other people, but still have guard up.


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