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Black Men and Public Spaces

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"Black Men and Public Spaces"

Understanding that the danger women fear when they see him "is not a hallucination" (Staples 198) author Brent Staples is finding himself in acceptance of the real danger that can be perceived by anyone in the environment where the experience takes place. Brent Staples makes it clear to me that he knows who he is and that he is not a threat to anyone. I think he is only describing his clear analysis of his surroundings along with his conclusion of the emotions evoked from his presence of others. Mr. Staples tone is informative and harmless, along with his presentation of personal experiences and facts well supported. It becomes clear to the readers that his intention is merely to inform them of the effects that stereotyping has on black men of his nature and how it has affected his life and that it continues to do so. It also informs the reader that many stereotypes are not true.

If you put yourself in a dark alleyway in the middle of the night, think about what we understand about the setting; lots of crimes are known to occur in these environments, to any race, not just blacks or whites. I think Mr. Staples is realistically viewing himself through these women's eyes and understanding that anyone in this situation would be skittish of his presence, describing himself as "a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket" (Staples 197).

We are living in a dangerous world anymore and anyone walking around in the middle of the night is aware of dangerous surroundings, especially in the shadows of the night. Following our instincts in these situations is a normal reaction and although we all react differently in stages of fear in a situation, I think Mr. Staples' observations of the women's fear is pretty neutral; although I feel as though his feelings are bruised on the passing judgments made about him from day to day.

If I were to place myself in the same situation, in that setting, I too would be frightened, not because he is a black man; it would not any difference to me whether the person is black, white, male or female. If Mr. Staples would put himself in someone else's shoes and watched what was going on, but instead being a black man a white man, he will then see that it's not because of the skin color. It is merely based on the fact that it is dark and in an alley. Women are not taught as a child to specifically watch out for black men, but to be careful at night around any men, especially in dark alleys!

He states his familiarity with the "language of fear" (217). In the context of his reference it is not the spoken language, but the behavior communicated through body language. This body language is communicated when he crosses the street at a light and hears the driver locking the doors as he walks



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