Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power To Alter Public Space Essay

Just Walk On By A Black Man Ponders His Power To Alter Public Space Essay

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“Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power To Alter Public Space” Stereotypes affect different individuals regardless race, religion, sex, and creed. In “Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space,” Brent Staples demonstrates how a stereotype on race and sex can intervene with one another. Each point, whether a narrative or remark, can have positive and negative outcomes on the audience Staples is trying to enlighten. His thesis,
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the ability to alter public space through racial stereotypes, affected him as well as many other persons of his stature and skin color. It not only influenced lives of people like Staples, but infringed onto the “victims” of Staples and others like him. Staples explains his thesis throughout the essay through narratives of incidents in his life. He explains one encounter with a young white women, “on a deserted street, in an impoverished section of Chicago” (556).
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She glances back at him and disappears off into the dark. In paragraph two, Staples understands her thoughts of him being a mugger, a rapist, or even a murderer ;but “her flight” made him feel “like an accomplice tyranny” (556). It also made him feel like he was “indistinguishable from the muggers,” and laid on him and “unnerving gulf between nighttime pedestrians—particularly women” and himself (556). This confrontation not only shows how a stereotype affected the thoughts of a female walking at night, but how it negatively touched a black male. Staples gives example after example showing a bigoted label he obtains due to his race and sex. Not only females, but males of the same race show a sign of uneasiness and discomfort when confronted by black males in insecure and dangerous areas. In his essay he mentions Norman Podhoretz, the writer of, “My Negro Problem—And Ours.” Podhoretz recalls in his essay that he grew up in terror of black males, and that “he cannot constrain his nervousness when he meets black men on certain streets” (557). If a black man is unable to feel comfortable on a desolate street, how is a young female able to feel at ease on the same streets at night? Staples also expounds to the reader the magnitude of his thesis through his familiarity “with the language of fear” (556). He vividly explains, “At dark, shadowy intersections in Chicago, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver—black, white, male, or female—hammering down the door locks” (556). Through this statement, Staples clearly shows one side of his audience, females, the negative outcome this stereotype gives. No one wants to be able to sense fear against themselves walking down the street. Another time when Staples realizes his ability to alter public space was when he describes how he was mistaken as a burglar. As he entered a jewelry store,
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