Perspective: Black People and Brent Staples Essay

Submitted By rolismalls25
Words: 1689
Pages: 7

Looks can be deceiving, a person should not be judged based on how others presume them. Authors, Brent Staples, Amy Tan, Judith Ortiz, and Judy Brady, attempt to show the harmful consequences of assumptions based on race, appearance, education, and stereotypes based on gender. Each essay gives readers the different perspectives, based on the authors’ experience with assumptions. Brent Staples’ “Just Walk on By”, informs women, that men should not be judged based on appearance, stereotypes, gender and race. He contents women see black men as a threat, lacking education and belonging to a lower socioeconomic group. Staples states, “She cast back a worried glance. To her, the 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—seemed menacingly close. . .It was clear she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist or worse.”(Staples 383) Staples’ point is that, he was judged on his appearance, gender and race. The woman judged him without knowing who he was or what his intentions were. She assumed he would do her harm, based on what she saw him as. Additionally Staples writes, “I often see women who fear the worst of me. They seem to have set their faces on neutral and with their purse straps strong across their chests bandolier-style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled. I understand, of course, that the danger they perceive is not a hallucination. Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence.” (Staples 384) The essence of Staples argument is that, men are often the victims of stereotypes. Just because somebody is black doesn’t mean they’re a “mugger” as well as because one is a male this doesn’t mean they are a rapist. Women categorize themselves as victims, they themselves, propose the thought of being a “damsel in distress”. Moreover, Staples writes, “Over the years, I learned to smother the rage I felt so often being taken for a criminal. Not to do so would surely have led to madness. I now take precautions to make myself less threatening…” (Staples 386) Basically he is saying that he had to change the way he acted in order to be non-categorized as a “typical black male”. He did things differently so that people wouldn’t assume he was a “mugger”, violent, non-educated, or have other assumptions based on (black) men. Brent Staples’ essay is an example of proving assumptions wrong. He informs readers, women should not judge men based on race, gender, appearance or stereotypes. Secondly, people are faced with discrimination due to assumptions; take Amy Tan’s mother for example. In “Mother Tongue”, Amy Tan informs readers that one should not be discriminated based on their ability to speak a different language. She contends people judge others based on the way they speak, taking advantage of them, seeing them as a non-equal and non-educated. Tan states, “Language is a tool of my trade. And I use them all—all the englishes I grew up with” (Tan 396). In other words, Tan is setting an example, by saying “englishes” she is implying the way English can be spoken and how differently one another speaks it, and how one should not be judged based on the way they speak. In addition Tan writes, “Lately, I’ve been giving more thought to the kind of English my mother speaks. Like others, I have described it to people as ‘broken’ or ‘fractured’ English. But I wince when I say that. It has always bothered me that I can think of no other way to describe it other than ‘broken’ as if it were damaged and needed to be fixed, as if it lacked a certain wholeness and soundness. I’ve heard other terms used, ‘limited English,’ for example. But they seem just as bad, as if everything is limited, including people’s perceptions of the limited English speaker” (Tan 398). Tan’s point is that English is a controversial