Stereotyping of African American Men
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affluent neighborhood in an otherwise mean, impoverished section of Chicago. As I swung onto the avenue behind her, there seemed to be a discreet, uninflammatory distance between us. Not so. She cast back a worried glance. To her, the youngish black man – a broad six feet two inches with a bear and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket – seemed menacingly close. After a few more quick glimpses, she picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. Within seconds, she disappeared into a cross street.Passage from Black Men and Public Space (1986) by Brent Staples.Brent Staples is the writer and narrator of Black Men and Public Space, an essay in which he tells the reader examples of his own experiences that occurred because of stereotype-based fear coming from mainly Caucasians towards him, an African-American male. In his essay’s opening paragraph Staples uses alliteration, determiners, unusual word choice and variation in sentence length to simultaneously confuse and tell the reader about his own experiences with race stereotypes. The tone of the essay is instantly set in the first sentence by using the word ‘‘victim’’. It generates immediate confusion within the reader and raises the question of what the writer tries to tell us using this word, what the intentions of the narrator are with this ‘‘woman’’ and why she is a victim. These well-chosen first few words already create an eagerness to continue reading. As soon as the woman is mentioned her appearance is not kept a secret. Staples uses a dash to draw attention to the list of characteristics of the woman that he gives in the first sentence and the first word he uses to describe her is ‘‘white’’. This…


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