Summary Of Black Men And Public Space By Brent Staples

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In the story "Black Men and Public Space," Brent Staples, a black man, describes how a number of his public appearances have frightened and alarmed other civilians nearby, and how he had "the ability to alter public space in ugly ways" (536). Each occurrence he dealt with (a young woman terrified on a deserted street, the faint sound of car doors locking as he walks past an intersections, his workplace mistaking him for a burglar) resulted in an uncomfortable, threatening situation for his "victim(s)" (Staples 536) and a dispiriting one for him as he was an innocent man being evaluated as a danger. This essay provides an example of the impact of society's stereotypical judgment towards black men going in public while portraying the unfair assumptions they receive because of the color of their skin.…show more content…
Like many other black men, Staples talks about how he must dodge other civilians just to avoid unsettling situations, stating, "I now take precautions to make myself less threatening" (538) and "I give a wide berth to nervous people" (538). Also, he must "move about with care" (Staples 538) and "whistle melodies" (Staples 538), using these as methods to seem less threatening. Black men cannot enjoy ordinary, everyday things like an evening stroll down the sidewalk without "people crossing to the other side of the street" (Staples 538) or look around a store without the owner's "eyes bulging" (Staples 538) to watch their every move. They seem to cause a form of tension with every public appearance they make, and they know that many people do not welcome their presence, having to create ways to seem harmless. This typically reduces how often they appear in public and weakens their comfort when doing

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