Black Men in Public Spaces

Sarah Hill ENG 101. 53 7/12/11 Black Men in Public Spaces In Brent Staples essay, “Black Men and Public Space,” Staples expresses the difficulties African Americans face in society. Through specific diction and detailed description of imagery, Staples conveys his experience throughout his life where he was negatively stereotyped as “a mugger, a rapist, or worse”. His lifelong exposure to this matter taught him to take precaution in the people he encounters and the places he visits. The words Staples choose to describe his incidences are very powerful.

They vividly construct how strongly society views his race. For instance, in the beginning of the essay where a frightened women’s reaction is described, he uses such words as “unwieldly, quarry, wayfarers, tyranny, ghetto, dangerous, hazard, dicey, fear, and weapon” to distinctly illustrate his response to the women’s reaction. Noticeably, none of the terms used suggest anything pleasant or gratifying. Although the community refuses to accept his normality as like everyone else, Staples remains to stay civil to his surrounding members.

His reaction can be charted as abnormal; whereas a normal person would fight back against his unfairly judgments. Readers develop a sense of pity towards him and that as well is also comprehensibly marked in his essay through word choice. He states his familiarity with the “language of fear”. This fear encompasses the societies’ speculations of him solely by his outer physicality. Although people sense his aura to be threatening and hazardous, Staples never mentions of any hatred or violent behaviors towards people that continue to treat him with prejudice.