Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space
In the essay, Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space, Brent Staples, an African American who is stereotyped and often mistaken for burglar, or a sketchy thug solely based on the color of his skin, describes the ignorant stereotypes often placed on African Americans like himself and the shocking racism he encounters. He explains that black men specifically, are often stereo typed as being tough, ruthless, murderers, muggers, burglars and thieves on a daily basis. He feels that his ethnicity has allowed him to inherit the ability to alter the space around him in negative ways, “It was in the echo of that terrified woman’s footfalls that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into – the ability to alter public space in ugly ways.” He supports this claim by offering personal examples of situations where his presence instantly creates fear in those around him, obviously because of the color of his skin. He establishes a somewhat uneasy tone for his audience, at times he seems to have come to terms with how he is perceived, but when he begins to delve deeper into the memories, he seems to become more tense, and on edge. This essay was most likely written for the general public, specifically white people who are unaware of the stereotypes often placed on those that are a different race. This essay is significant because even though people have become less physically abusive, still exists and the stereotypes placed on different races, are extremely hurtful and often ignorant.
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