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January 25, 2012 / Ariana Kasper

Brent Staples Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space.

Brent Staples talks about a  conflict with the identity of a black man in his essay  Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space. Rather than having an individual identity,  black men are victims of discrimination. Instead of having a unique personality that one can recognize and distinguish, these men are seen as members of a stereotype.  Although the majority of the accusations and assumptions generated by the public are false, members of this minority group suffer incessantly. There is definitely a great deal of ethos used throughout this essay. He mentions the fact that he was a graduate student at the University of Chigaco, allowing the readers to know that he is an educated man who most likely has a good idea about what he is talking about. In addition to his university level education he worked as a journalist in Chicago as well.  Also when referring to black men in mugging history Brent Staples cites a famous essay and includes quotes. The words he used to describe a white woman’s reaction to his presence were great examples of how pathos was used in this essay. According to Staples the way the woman felt was “worried”. She clearly felt uneasy, thinking that the man was “menacingly close.”  He says how people automatically feel frightened, as if every black man on Earth is dangerous or hazardous.  He exposes the emotions of fear that people experienced when there was a black man present. The main point of the essay is that as a result of racial prejudice and discrimination, black men are constantly being mistaken due to completely  falsified beliefs. Staples did a great job of highlighting the key points of the situation, proposing an alternative solution to the problem, and backing up his reasoning as to why he thought it was best to make himself appear less threatening.


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