This article is an analysis of Black Men and Public Space by Brent Staples.
Black Men and Public Space by Brent Staples
Black Men and Public Space is a harrowing and all too real piece of writing by Brent Staples. It discusses the sort of you know the ongoing problem of being considered a possible assailant or a possible threat even though you are not just because of the way you look.
It really gets into a lot of specific details and specific examples to demonstrate this horrible phenomenon that unfortunately remains part of America.
It says right from the beginning my first victim was a woman white well-dressed probably in her early 20s. It’s interesting that he says my first victim that really gets that idea of like that’s what people expect that they’re going to be when they are encountering a person like our narrator who is a somewhat threatening looking African American.
Says to her a youngish black man a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket seamed menacingly close. That for this specific example here shows it to this woman that seemed like something to fear and to run away from even though he was just you know walking down the street.
That first encounter and those that followed signified in a vast unnerving gulf lay between nighttime pedestrians particularly women and me. Where our narrator a perfectly fine respectable educated person who has a PhD in psychology from the University of Chicago as somebody who on the street at night ends up being feared right.
He uses a lot of really great crisp examples to get at this he says 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.
It’s really interesting that he says black white male or female to demonstrate that regardless of the person inside the car. He’s still seen as a threat. This is despite the fact that you know as it says you know women are particularly vulnerable street violence and young black males are trash equally over-represented among the perpetrators of that violence.
Yet these truths are no solace against the kind of alienation that comes of ever of being ever the suspect of the fearsome entity with whom pedestrians avoid making eye contact.
This is where he’s saying that even though statistically speaking he is more likely to be a threat because of his demographics than other demographics maybe and that doesn’t take away the sting of being seen as a threat.
This piece has just fantastic specific examples throughout it.
It says the most frightening of these confusions occurred in the late 70s and early 80s when I worked as a journalist in Chicago one day rushing into the office of a magazine. I was writing for with a deadline story in hand. I was mistaken for a burglar. right so like it’s a specific example another one it says another time I was on assignment for a local paper and killing time before an interview.
I entered a jewelry store on the city’s affluent Near North Side the proprietor excused herself and returned with an enormous red Doberman Pinscher straining at the end of the leash.
So the mere fact that he went into a store. You know elicited a response by somebody to go get a frightening dog because apparently, he was a threatening individual. This is terrible but they are great examples of exemplification.
At the end of this piece, he discusses how he’s sort of gone about trying to defuse this problem.
It says virtually everyone seems to sense that a mugger wouldn’t be warbling bright sunny selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they’re in bear country. It’s sort of like that idea that basically it’s you know he tries to make himself seem as disarming as possible and humming Vivaldi Four Seasons is about as good a way as you can possibly do.
Black Men and Public Space Analysis. English notes