Is being a black man in public space a crime in America ? In today's society that question is very prevalent and seems to cause a lot of discussion. Many people often start these kinds of discussions and still do not receive the change that they are looking for. In the essay “Black Men and Public Space,” Brent Staples talks about his personal experiences of him being a black man in the presence of the public. He uses his personal accounts to give off vivid imagery that appeals to the audience in multiple different ways. His accounts are explained in his writing with a plentiful array of words and a use of a humorous style. Brent Staples successfully uses the emotional appeal of pathos and ethos to achieve his main goal of showing how racism and discrimination still exists in today's society.
The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man depicts the narrator as a liminal character. Beginning with an oblivious knowledge of race as a child, and which racial group he belonged, to his well knowing of “white” and “black” and the ability to pass as both. On the account of liminality, the narrator is presenting himself as an outsider. Because he is both a “white” and “black” male, he does not fit in with either racial group. In the autobiography of an Ex-colored man, James Weldon Johnson uses double consciousness to show the narrators stance as a person that gives up his birthright for the “privilege of whiteness”.
Forty years is a long time, long enough to deprive a person of any connection to the real world. I mean those cars, machines, children crying… I just couldn’t get used to them. Sometime I feel I’m standing in the eye of hurricane, the noises whipping around me like a gale. It’s a terrible thing to live in fear. All I’m doing is just lying here, smoking, unable to sleep. I look up and see old Brooks’s world from the beam, he gave up. That makes me more scared. He couldn’t cope with the real world, so he decided to release himself totally. Well, I guess I have become institutionalized like Brooks as, I can’t feel
Even in modern society, the simplest of things can shift the delicate atmosphere. A black man entering a room, or any space, full of white people, can automatically transform the ambiance. This ‘ability’ may not be a desired effect, but in certain situations, it becomes inevitable. Through the use of different rhetorical devices, Brent Staples is able to demonstrate his realization of his “ability to alter public space in ugly ways” simply because of his race and stature in his essay, “Black Men and Public Space.” Staples uses the rhetorical techniques ethos, logos, and pathos in order to get on the “same side” as the reader while still presenting the essence of his argument. The author is able to sympathize with his “victims” and justify their feelings, appealing to ethos. He also analogies and details about his background, such as his doctorate in psychology, and the fact that he was a reporter to appeal to logos. Additionally, by using vivid imagery and creative diction, he engages the reader by use of pathos, evoking the emotions of the reader. With the use of rhetorical devices, Staples is able to effectively describe his experiences of being perceived as a criminal, solely based on his “unwieldy inheritance” (205), while, additionally, extending this concept to be true throughout society.
The narrator of The Autobiography grows up his whole life thinking that he is white. It is not until one fateful day in school where a teacher indirectly tells him that he is black that he finds out. This revelation, which he himself describes as “a sword-thrust” (Johnson 13), suggests a transformation, a great change, a development in the Ex-Colored Man’s racial consciousness in the future. However, as M. Giulia Fabi says, “[The ECM’s] proclaimed loyalty to his ‘mother’s people’ is continuously undercut by his admiration for and identification with mainstream white America” (375). She also indicates how when contrasted with previous passers, “the Ex-Colored Man’s oft-noted cowardice,
Brian Copeland was celebrating his 35th birthday with his friends in a pub. He went to the restroom to take a leak, and then he unexpectedly heard a couple of men talking about him and his accomplishments, but even though Copeland made a name for himself, these guys still see him as a “nigger.”
In today’s American society, being born black is often life threatening and comes with many struggles and fears. The author Brent Staples visibly demonstrates the presence of black men, in his article “Black Men and Public Spaces”. Staples illustrates to the readers how black men attempt to live their lives as normal as possible, but are unable to because of the fear society has of them. Brent Staples attests to the turbulent lives black men face in society, from their childhood to an adult age. Staples is able to demonstrate the various issues black men face in society with the use of logos, ethos, and pathos.
If you stop and sit on the curb, a police officer will pass and probably ask you what you’re doing. I have heard none of the Negroes speak of police harassment, but have warned me that any time the police see a Negro idling, especially one they do not recognize, they will surely question him.(pg.43)
Fredrick Douglas wrote and presented his What the Black Man Wants speech during the post civil war time period to demonstrate his straightforward views on the fact that even though the black race had just acquired freedom, they remained without equality and civil rights which gave their current freedom no meaning. Throughout his entire speech, Douglas rules over his audience with his parallel and emotional diction choice along with his assertive tone shifting towards anger and the answering of his own questions multiple times to emphasize his seriousness.
What if you were captured as a slave how would you feel? Do you think you could survive? In the 1700’s life was very different than it is now. Back then if you were a Negro you would have to be extra careful or you could be sold as a slave. But imagine being sold after witnessing the death of your parents and being a child you would be traumatized. Now we do not have those kinds of worries; life was very different then than it is now. As a child, Aminata was taken away and captured as a slave, faced public humiliation, and lost her family, but in the end she overcame it all.
In his article “Black Men in Public Spaces”, journalist Brent Staples discusses how stereotyping has negatively affected him throughout his life, especially during his nightly walks to ease his insomnia. He outlines when he first noticed this occurrence and the steps he has used to minimize the degree of reactions.
Racism has been a setback in this society for the past centuries and there have not been any real solutions for this issue. During the time this article was published racism and segregation in the inner-cities such as Chicago and New York were at a high tension. In his essay, "Black Men and Public Space" Brent Staples describe how he has been affected by society based of his physical appearance. Staples is an African American who was born and grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, as he described it "the small, angry industrial town" (614). Staples uses his experiences and his feeling to connect with his audiences and other readers.
From past to present there’s not much of a difference. The idea is that all men are equal, but in reality there are boundaries and hardships that prevent other races from being included in equality, next to the white man. The absence of diversity in the United States, interferes with the ability for black men to transition into manhood. Thus, continues this interminable cycle of a black man fighting for his identity, power, respect, and trying to understand who he is as an individual. Black men are portrayed to be lazy,
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man was published at a time when America was racially divided. The novel presents the theme of the lack of black identity – a theme supported by the fact that the protagonist, Invisible Man, has no name. The reader knows the names of Dr. Bledsoe, Ras-the-Exhorter, Brother Jack and others - but the reader does not know the name of the main character. Ellison's leaves it to the reader to decide who he is and, on a larger scale, how white America perceives black America.