In “Black Men and Public Spaces” Brent Staples reveals his experiences with different individuos in all kind of public areas. Staples talk about how people stereotype black men as a violent and dangerous individuals because of their appearance and the color of their skin. In the past when black men was associated with the word murderer or thieves or rapist or all kind of bad things people were afraid on being next to them.
When Staples started the story saying “My first victim was a woman” and he specify (white) make it seems like he wasn’t the victim of this woman when he follows saying “After a few more glimpses, she picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest.” What the narrator is doing is letting know that people shouldn’t judge because of the others appearances. In the whole story Staples is leaving the clear concept of people will always see black men as a threat because of his race.
The sad part is that the narrator is not saying that this happen long time ago is just like a decade ago when he mention about studying at the University of Chicago and then moved to New York. It make it seems that no matter when or where black men being dangerous or being involved in criminal activity does not leave the world’s general schema, people still see black men related to the word dangerous.The title is ironic because public space is supposedly available to everyone but, socially speaking, that does not appear to be that way for black men, even in today’s society.
Staples demonstrates his struggle for acceptances from people whom are scared of him. He goes on to say that he now takes precautions to avoid situations he has experienced. He now whistles melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi when he takes walks at night because no one will assume a mugger knows classical music. Instead of people crossing to the other side of the street, he’ll keep his distance from those that may seem skittish of him. It seems that he does all this just to fit in to society. None of this will change the way black men are stereotyped.
I was walking with my daughter one night around seven pm., and crossing the street inside the parking lot mall this black woman was speeding like she was on the outside streets, We were slow walking on the street to reach our car and she got so angry and get out of her car and approach to me with the intention clear of fight me, she was a very heavy black young woman maybe on her middle twenties, she was screaming at my face “Do you have a problem with me?”
I said many time no I don’t please leave me alone but my daughter who was fourteen by that time and to innocent of the danger we were on, told her “You shouldn’t be speeding inside the parking lot and talking on the phone” that was enough to her to start beating up my daughter. This was a really nasty experience that we will never want to repeat and since then we try to avoid on many ways to confront a black person. We call 911 and the police man who came was a black police who said this words “For people like that woman is that we have bad reputation”
I think no matter when or where and no matter the race or color we need to be careful on how to conduct ourselves at public spaces. Stereotypes affect individuals regardless of race, sex, or religion.
The narrator tell many time he was mistaken as a criminal for being black and six feet two inches tall with a beard and billowing hair, when he enter to the jewelry and the proprietor excuse himself just to get his enormous red Doberman Pinscher and he has to leave, or when he was mistaking as a reporter for the killer, police officers hauled him from his car at gunpoint.
Black men on public space will continue to experience these situations. We cannot change the way people think and judge. Unfortunately the majority of black men, who are criminals, will continue to give a bad reputation for those that are not. We live in a world where we have to be in high alert to maintain unharmed. There’s no reason for anyone to feel the obligation or need to act a certain way so those that are judging them can feel a sense of security, the way Brent Staples did. As long as you know you’re not that type of person, you cannot let someone’s judgment stop you from succeeding and proving that you are not a statistic.
Courtney from Study Moose
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