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Racial Discrimination in Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space

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In Brent Staples’ ‘Just Walk on By: Black men and Public Space,’ Staples provides black males experience of discrimination and further attempt to bring awareness black male’s perspective toward white, educated females. Staples successfully employed unique structure, striking anecdotes, and ambivalent tone in ordered to achieve his purpose.

Staples uses an anecdote about multiple African American male’ racial discrimination, including his own to invite the readers to experience depression and oppression from African American male vicariously. Staple starts with his anecdote describing himself as a criminal and focusing more on white women’s perspective. This anecdote is followed by another personal anecdote, which this time focus on unveiling his emotions and thought towards these experiences. Staples states how he was ‘surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed.’ He further provides details about the devastating situation of how'[he] only needed to turn a corner into a dicey situation, or crowd some frightened, armed person in a foyer somewhere or make an errant move after being pulled over by a policeman.’ By starting the essay with his anecdote, he made the distance between him and his audience closer and made the essay more interesting. However, instead of stopping, Staples further introduce his friends and colleagues’ involvement in racial discrimination. By providing multiple anecdote, Staples further emphasize the complexity of the issue. As Staples develop his anecdote further by utilizing multiple perspectives, he activates the reader’s empathy towards, African American male to compel the reader to have acknowledged of what African American male was experiencing.

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Throughout the essay, Staple’s diction manipulates emotional responses in his reader. Phrases such as ‘My first victim,’ ‘menacingly close,’ ‘an accomplice in tyranny,’ establish Staples as an African American male worthy of sympathy. Once the reader is involved, Staples directs the tragic sense with words intended to bring forth more negative emotional responses: ‘unnerving gulf,’ ‘standard unpleasantries,’ and ‘troublesome individual.’ With his use of clever diction, Staples vividly displays a tragic situation that the majority of the African American go through and successfully brought the reader’s empathy.

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