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Rhetorical Analysis of Black Men and Public Space by Brent Staples

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Brent Staples, an African American journalist. He took off a childhood of urban poverty through success in school and earned a Ph.D. or PhD in psychology from the University of Chicago in 1982. In Black Men And Public Space Staples demonstrates his argument that not all African American men were harmful and how a stereotype on race and sex can affect people in society. The thesis for the piece is his hope to reform public space through racial stereotypes. It affected to Staples and other persons like him in society. Stables wanted to express and educate his reader that it is unfair to prejudge someone as a mugger, rapist, dangerous person because of their skin color or racial background.

Staples interpret his thesis throughout the essay through narratives of unpleasant incidents in his life. He recounts a first memory from the deserted street in Hyde Park in an impoverished section of Chicago. He swung onto the avenue behind a white, well dressed young woman. She cast back a worried glance and ran in earnest, then disappeared into a cross street. Staples understands that in the thoughts of the women, he is a mugger, a rapist, or worse. To a woman, the six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair young black man wore navy pea jacket and the collar turned up, hands snug in the pockets might be endangered to her safety. All of the reaction from the woman toward him made him feel like an accomplice in tyranny. After one year, Staples become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear, but he never comfortable when seeing couples locked arms or reached for each other’s hand when seeing him or chose to cross the other side of the street rather than encounter to him. Staples uses imagery examples. He mentions he could pass 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. The action words like “hammering” made his point about racial stereotypes brighter. It emphasized the fear that others felt when he passed them by.

Staples provides another example to give support to his essay. He brought up the content in the essay, “My Negro Problem – And Ours,” by Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz describes his discomfort when to encounter by black males in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In his essay, he mentions that he cannot constrain his nervousness when he meets black men on certain streets. Correspondingly, Edward Hoagland, the essayist, and novelist also agrees with the idea that he senses fear when surrounded by a black man.

Staples uses the technique of repetition of an equivalent example to make his thesis more noteworthy and appealing. Examples he used help to make the reader feel sympathy towards black men. He continues to describe his experience through a narrative. I can explore many of his emotions through words. He describes a time when he entered a jewelry store but was greeted with an “enormous red Doberman pinscher.” The way that the proprietor looks at him was not pleasant; her eyes were bulging nearly out of her head. At this point, I indeed feel a lot of his emotion through words. Later, Staples realized that he could not change the way people look at him, but he did not let the stereotype of being mistreated in a society overcome his emotion being himself as a black man.

Staples again made his reader touch his heart and emotions when he describes his way of living in society by taking precautions to make himself less threatening. He moves about with care, particularly late in the evening. He lets others clear the lobby before he returns, and was calm and extremely friendly on rare occasions when he had been pulled over by the police.

All of the confrontation not only shows how a stereotype affected the thoughts of the white female he met at the deserted street in Chicago. It happened everywhere, people on the street, the writers, the proprietor at the jewelry store, they all feared him because of his skin color and his characteristic.

In addition, Staples uses emotive imagery to help his readers imagine how good he was, and he had no behavior that could lead him to be a bad black man. The image of him hardly ever to “take a knife to a raw chicken” shows his readers that he is a benign person.

Staples successfully convince his readers to have confidence that not all of the black man is dangerous and to change how people view black man in society. Even though examples of the unpleasant incident came from his experience in the past, I firmly believe there are still some black people who are struggling to fit themselves into society. He made his point clear that not all of the black men are bad and that people only can see once they put their racism aside. People should see everyone equally regardless of their nationality, race, or even the color of their skin.

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