Staples Brent in “Black Men and Public Space” described the difficulties that a young black male may encounter during his ordinary life. It is explained that, even if you are a well-educated citizen, but you are a black man—more than six feet height with a not shaved face—you could face unfair prejudice and judgment all the time in street. At the very beginning of the article Brent start with “My first victim was a woman—white, well-dressed, probably in her late twenties” (207). Leaves reader with a sense of curiosity for looking after evidence of nastiness in the upcoming story that is going to be read. Brent explains his personal experience as a young black African-American, also looking tall and strange, who encounters a lot of stereotyping as he is just living a normal life like others do. There is a night; he is walking behind a woman in beggary section of Chicago. Nervous and frightened eyes of that woman make him think about of her prejudice about him. What might a young white woman think of young black male as he is getting closer and closer in the middle of the night? The undeniable truth is that she thinks of herself as a victim of a robbery, rape, or something really bad. Being judged in that way will cause everyone to feel really bad, embarrassed and in some cases angry, so does Brent.
He felt embarrassed that he is accused of threatening people just by passing people in crosswalk or somewhere else. Brent in his twenties, realized about the unfair fear and judgments that other people have about him, judgments that seems are going to be last forever and he cannot get rid of them in any way. Unfair perspectives about someone like him who is young, male and black. These perspective are he is a kind of danger to public spaces. He addresses these unfair situations by discussing the same woman he mentions as his first victim, she thought herself target and victim of a criminal. Suffering from insomnia, he walks at night time and could not prevent this kind of situation from happening. He describes himself as a weak man who is rarely able to butcher a chicken, so being that harmless, and facing the flight of that woman made him embarrassed at once, but then it became anger. It is very hard to understand that he is not distinguishable from criminals who rob people every day. The scariest thing that bothers him much more than anything else, is that more than often there are possibilities in these kind of situations that fear of someone will put a dramatic end to life of someone like him.
What make the situation even worse are prejudiced people like policemen or cabdrivers whose duty is judge individuals like him before they commit anything wrong. As he moves to New York, his problem with sleeping still remains despite the fact that crowded places in Manhattan reduce the tension he had been experiencing. Yet there are narrow streets in Brooklyn where he faced unpleasant moments. “I often see women who fear the worst from me” (208). Although he is suffering the heavy atmosphere above him caused by people prejudice, he understands that the source of that fear is not just something unreal. Of course women are physically weaker and more vulnerable to street crimes. On the other hand, black males are typically the first suspect for all these kind of nastiness. He never realized the feeling of being under pressure of other people judgment until he got to the age of 22. All his life before that age he was living in a neighborhood where most of the people were black, and mostly criminal.
It is predictable that a shy person who mostly prefer to stay out of any physical and street fight was not noticeable among those bloody street fights, which he sadly mentions that quite a few of his relatives were died or killed. There are a number of times that he accused or even arrested mistakenly just for being black. From a moment that he was in hurry to go to one of magazine offices and he was mistaken for a burglar, to frightened by a Doberman pinscher in a jewelry store that its frightened proprietor bring just to keep him out of her store. Not just believing himself as a most miserable victim of this situation he talks about another black male journalist who were arrested at the expense of a criminal that he was writing a report about. As these series of tension will make everyone really angry and sad he comes up with ideas to reduce this kind of situation. By taking more care, especially at nights that he walks alone. He takes steps to make himself less threatening and also he learned that of whistling. It works and reduces the tension as he walks and whistles classical sonatas from Beethoven
Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public space” The Longman Reader. Eds. Judith Nadell. John Longman and Eliza A.Comodromos. 10th Ed. New Jersey: 2012 Print