Brent Staples' Describes Discrimination of Black Men Through his Writing

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Fueled by fear and ignorance, racism has corrupted the hearts of mankind throughout history. In the mid-1970’s, Brent Staples discovered such prejudice toward black men for merely being present in public. Staples wrote an essay describing how he could not even walk down the street normally, people, especially women, would stray away from him out of terror. Staples demonstrates his understanding of this fearful discrimination through his narrative structure, selection of detail, and manipulation of language. The way Staples structures this essay emphasizes his awareness of the problem he faces. The essay’s framework consists mostly of Staples informing the reader of a scenario in which he was discriminated against and then following it…show more content…
When describing the reactions that people had to his presence, Staples provides excellent detail. Women “seemed to have their faces on neutral, and with their purse straps across their chests bandolier style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled.” As a result of ample experience, Staples can accurately describe the fearful responses people had to him. Although, Staples does “understand, or course, that the danger they perceive is not a hallucination.” During that time period, there were young black men involved in street violence. Staples paints a vivid picture of himself when he was younger with the excellent detail he includes in the first paragraph. He was “a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket.” Staples recognizes that his menacing appearance combined with narrow sidewalks and tightly spaced buildings did not help his case. Through manipulation of language, Staples demonstrates his comprehension of the effect this discrimination had on innocent black males. Since he has had firsthand experience in this matter, Staples discerns his situation as an “unwieldy inheritance” with “the ability to alter public space in ugly ways.” Clearly, Staples feels as if he was cursed, for he was constantly treated like a “fearsome entity with whom pedestrians avoid making eye contact with.” This put him in an
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