Black Men and Public Space
‘Black Men and Public Space’ is an essay written by Bent Staples which reflects his position in the society and the manner in which people treated him because he was an African American. Therefore, as a result of his skin color, he was faced a lot of discrimination in the public space. He gives various examples of such incidences such as the night whereby he met a white woman and she began avoiding him. However, he did a couple of things to change the manner in which people viewed him and, in turn, reduce the level of discrimination that he was facing. Hence, I agree with Staples’s essay as he tried to teach the world that stereotypes can have a great impact on both the African-Americans as well as other races across the world.
One of the way that stereotypes can affect someone’s race is by judging them by their way of dressing. In the current society, there is a great difference that exists in the manner in which professionals dress as compared to other people. However, it is not necessarily that a person in a suit is a professional or that a person wearing a casual outfit could be a smuggler. Staples proof this fact when the white woman runs away from him simply because of the clothes that he was wearing. He, therefore, decides to change his dress code and walking style in order to gain respect in the society and avoid being discriminated. Hence the stereotypes judgment of a person’s dressing can result in a lot of changes in that person. This is common among the African-Americans because the colonial view of slavery and rapists is still intact in some people’s minds in the society. Also, it affects people from other races.
In addition, stereotypes of skin color can affect an individual’s way of living. Changing skin color is not something easy that people can do. The racial looks of an individual will still be visible regardless of whether they have breached their skin or not. Therefore, in order to survive the discrimination, it is important to find other ways of changing the way that the stereotypes view skin color. Also, one can choose to accept their existence and ignore the fact that they are being discriminated in public space. In the world we are living in, not everybody is a stereotype, and hence the discrimination will not be faced in all corners. Therefore, an individual can make through the day by surrounding themselves with people who appreciate their race.
Besides, stereotypes can result in chaos and violence in the society. Staples shows this through the reaction to the people who discriminated him. He did not feel offended neither did he question them for their behavior. Instead, he made a personal choice of changing his appearance so that the stereotypes can change their point of view about who Staples was. As a result of compromising with the situation, Staples ended up changing his dress code and personality to fit the stereotypes expectations of class and professionalism. After the change, Staples did not face as much discrimination as compared to his earlier books. Therefore, the key to overcoming the discrimination of stereotypes is by ignoring them and avoiding conflict as much as possible. The public space is full of such space and therefore, giving them attention will only be wasting somebody’s time that should instead be used in carrying out constructive things. A combination of people from different races is what builds a nation due to the diversity of ideas.
The emotions and attitudes of a person can help them go through a day of discrimination. Staples points out a time whereby people would make negative comments about him in his presence. As a way of hiding his anger, he would just smile and walk away. This has been proven to be an effective way of avoiding negative energy, especially in the workplace. Whenever a person makes a negative comment, and the person it was directed to reacts by smiling, then it leaves the later feeling embarrassed and intimidated. Therefore, once people have gotten used to one’s character of ignoring the negative energy, then it will be difficult to discriminate them. Instead, people will be left with no options but accommodating such a person. As well, some stereotypes make such comments in order to pick an argument with a person. Therefore, ignoring them would be a good solution to avoid the conflict. Staples put a lot of effort in convincing people that their view about him was wrong. He says that people are quick to judge and hence, in such cases, it is important to show one’s level of intelligence by the manner in which they respond to stereotypes. In some cases, someone can give an answer that will keep people thinking and regretting the reason as to why they gave a negative comment. The fight does not have to be physical.
Concisely, ‘Black Men and Public Space’ is a great essay that acts as an allegory to today’s life. Our society is full of stereotypes of every kind and people who are out to discriminate others in regard to their race and cultures. It is the obligation of every individual who feels like a victim of discrimination to find out ways of fighting the discrimination. As outlined above, avoiding negative energy, changing one’s personality, and accepting the existence of stereotypes are the ways through which an individual can avoid feelings of discrimination. Given the fact that a person’s race will always remain to be the same regardless of how much they try to change, it is important to understand the social circle to avoid being caught up in negativity. Staples provides good examples of how an individual should not allow racial discrimination to disrupt their day to day activities. In the case whereby an individual has tried their best to convince others about who they are, they should be ready to face any responses. Whether negative or positive, life must move on.