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Black Men and Public Space

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Race has always been an issue that is related to various emotions and views. Historically, people from multiple racial backgrounds, particularly Africans, have always been treated and viewed based on their skin color. The article “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples illustrates to the reader the struggles that a young black person experiences in an urban setting. Although in some situations, individuals are stereotyped based on their race, some cases are merely based on culture, gender, and appearance, as illustrated by the article.

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The author illustrates in the article that despite black men’s achievements, people often judge them on their skin color. However, the author overestimates the power of the stereotype. In an illustration, he notices the space a white woman sets between them while walking in the streets at night. According to the author, the woman thought “herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist, or worse” (Goldthwaite et al., .267). However, the woman did not perceive the author as dangerous based on color but gender and her safety. A person is less likely to be afraid of a woman in a similar situation.

Additionally, the author uses examples to illustrate the racial stereotype he faces from his audience. In one scenario, Staples believes that people mistook him for a burglar. “The office manager called security who pursued him through the labyrinth halls” (Goldthwaite et al., .268). While Stapler is right to feel threatened in such a situation, the security officer might not have recognized him given that it was not working hours.

Finally, the author describes the reaction that people, especially women, had to his presence. He states, “women seemed to have their faces on neutral and with their purse straps across their chest bandolier style, they forge ahead s although bracing themselves against being tackled” (Goldthwaite et al. .268). The actions of the minority are generalized to the collective values for the entire minority group, a situation that may have led the author to be conscious of his presence in many cases. The author many have internalized the negative labels in black men and felt as a threat to others.

The racial stereotype is destructive to American society. The author effectively persuades the audience that the majorities of black men are not harmful and urges the community to stop the generalization. However, black people must have a part to play and recognize not all situations are influenced by race but danger, gender, appearance, and culture.  

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