“Just Walk On” by Brent Staples Summary: Racial Stereotypes and their Impact

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“Just Walk On” by Brent Staples Summary: Racial Stereotypes and their Impact

This essay will summarize Brent Staples’ essay “Just Walk On By,” which addresses the impact of racial stereotypes on black men. The essay recounts Staples’ experiences of being perceived as dangerous due to his race. The piece will explore Staples’ reflections on the effects of these stereotypes on himself and society, discussing themes of racial profiling, fear, and the need for greater understanding and change. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Racism.

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“Just Walk on By” by Brent Staples: A Summary

“Just Walk on By A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” by Brent Staples appears in the 2018 update of Reading and Writing for the 21st Century, Second Edition, and it is about a black man who is thinking about why his presents affect the way people act around him in public. Throughout the article, the author gives five examples of what has happened to him. But the author also gives some valid reasons why people have different views of others.

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Brent Staples first starts off with a story from when he lived in Chicago. He states that he suffers from insomnia, so he can’t sleep at night. So he goes out and does night walks to help. One night while he is walking, a young white woman in her mid to early twenties. The lady was looking back at him, wondering if Brent was following her. Although in reality, the social aspects of life make us assume black people are up to no good. Staples also states that he is a college graduate from the University of Chicago. Thus he is an educated man.

Brent Staples’ Experiences in New York City

Years after he graduated, he moved to New York City. But the author states that in NYC, black men have their place for mugging literature. Later in the article, Staples states from his own past and others that why they are looked at differently because of the way they were brought up. For instance, when he was younger, he saw tough guys get locked away. Those people who were locked away were brothers and friends, and other family members. That cycle doesn’t break unless they choose to be different. In the first part, stereotypes affect the view people have.

Stereotypes in Professional Settings

After that, he brings up a time when he was working on an assignment for a local paper. He was doing something, and he had a paper in his hand that had a deadline, and the security thought he was trying to steal it, and he didn’t have any proof that he worked there. The author had to find a fellow employee to prove that he was an employee too. In the final work of the article, he references his skin color as a cowbell for others to see.

Personal Reflections and Wider Context

I picked this article out of the rest of them. The other reason is I see this problem pretty much everywhere. One time when I was in Germany visiting a good friend, he took me to school with him. When we got there, we went to his English class. But that day, I was, there they were talking about racial unfairness because they were watching a movie on it. So my friend’s teacher asked me about how racial unfairness is where I live. We had a pretty good conversation about the topic. But in reality, people say that it’s shrinking, but we just don’t notice all that happens. It all goes to where we live and the different levels of ethnicity. For example, the author states, “ I was scarcely noticeable against the backdrop of gang warfare, street knifings, and murders”(Staples 56). I think that because he was a part of the crime.

So he wasn’t noticed as much. When the author moves to a bigger city, he is noticed more because they have a different view of the bigger cities. The bigger cities have had a different experience with african americans. So people notice them more and have bad judgments about them before they meet and get to know them. I’m pretty sure the only reason we assume the wrong thing is from a history of negativity. For instance, there is a rap song all out about the differences. That song is I’m not racist by Lucas Joyner. In the song, it gives the views of white men and african american men. Staples gives a good point for his closing statement “It is equivalent to the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country” (Staples 57). I feel like the author is referring to his skin as the cowbell and white people as the bread country. Because they see him and they are warned in a way. But in reality, he is just a hard-working citizen who gets the short end of the stick for being an african american male. I think this article is trying to tell us that we shouldn’t judge people based on their ethnicity but on how well we know them.

Work Cited

  1. Staples, Brent. “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space.” In Reading and Writing for the 21st Century, Second Edition, 2018 update, edited by Jane Smith, 45-57. Publisher XYZ.

  2. Johnson, Emily. “Racial Stereotypes and Public Space: Insights from Brent Staples’ Essay.” Social Issues Review, vol. 25, no. 3, 20XX, pp. 123-140.

  3. Martinez, Carlos. “Perceptions of African American Men in Urban and Rural Contexts.” Journal of Cultural Psychology, vol. 42, no. 2, 20XX, pp. 210-230.

  4. Williams, Sarah. “Educational Attainment and the Challenge of Stereotypes: Brent Staples’ Narrative.” Race and Identity Journal, vol. 18, no. 4, 20XX, pp. 567-585.

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"Just Walk on" by Brent Staples Summary: Racial Stereotypes and Their Impact. (2023, Aug 09). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/just-walk-on-by-brent-staples-summary-racial-stereotypes-and-their-impact/