The Persistence of Racism and Unconscious Bias in Brent Staples’ Just Walk on By Black Men and Public Space
Staples uses his literal skills to tell us the stereotypes, censures, and biases he experiences by being black. Staples sets off by making us believe that he is an offender.He explains how he is always stereotyped as a mugger, gangster, and rapist, regardless of what he has done. The Staples story picks up from the early age of 20 and explores how he strives to be better than other blacks who have equal access to education. Despite his efforts, Staples realizes that he still suffers the same problems they suffer, despite his enlightened approach to life. Therefore, he concludes that the black man faces subconscious bias where people already have a conscious view of the person long before they get to know them better.AnalysisThe main thing that drives Staples into writing this text is his desire to demonstrate how unconscious bias propagates racism. In his quest, Staples uses a vast number of rhetorical statements that prompt the reader to see his perception actively. His writing format does not tell you what he thinks. It moves you to reason and ultimately ends up with a similar conclusion. His diction, in numerous instances, subconsciously hints on how blacks are thought of as violent and brutal by the public. For example, the author has lines like ‘Both hands shoved into his bulky’. In this case, the words shoved and bulky create aggressive imagery to the reader. His choice of words helps him push home the idea that we can stereotype people without actually saying what we think of them. Staples’ pathos is aimed at bringing out the emotions of his reader. It makes his text more interesting to read and makes us feel what a general audience would have thought about the black man or the white lady he describes when writing.Apart from using imagery, the author also taps into mockery and humor to draw in his readers. A good example is when he refers to his insomnia as pestering sleep. While this in itself is a simple case of mockery, it is punchier because it comes after a serious paragraph. The humor makes it easier to read his text that otherwise addresses important discrimination issues that black men and other minorities face in their daily life. Staples is always making essential observations about unfairness regardless of whether Staples actively airs them in the essay or not.Even though he is abhorrent of how black men suffer under deep-rooted bias, he takes a different approach when handling the topic in his essay. Instead of being confrontational like numerous essays about the issue, Staples decides to look at the issue from a white American’s point of view when writing. The author chooses to reason differently and aspires to understand why unconscious bias exists from people who have it. This is an unusual move in the topic as most public papers on the topic take a confrontational approach that occasionally makes affected parties defensive. To some extent, the authoring process might be deemed weak and submissive. However, it is clear to see that Staples is paying homage to the fact that the bias Staples is talking about is unconscious by using diction, humor, and imagery to convey his message subconsciously. While numerous black rights activists did not fancy this route, Staples is not alone in using this reconciliatory or pacifist approach. To some extent, we can say he channels antiwar activists like Martin Luther instead of his confrontational opposite, Malcolm X. Staples seeks to show that even though both stands have their own advantages and disadvantages, long-lasting victory and piece lies in a calm minded evaluation of facts and peaceful conclusions (Staples 266). The author takes time to acknowledge the black man’s belligerence when fighting racism but also highlights its flaws before explaining why he believes a pacifist approach would be more productive.Even though most of the points come from Staples’s public interactions and personal experiences, the essay still deliberates on external issues important to the topic. For instance, he talks about ‘My Negro Problem and Ours,’ a contentious text by Norman Podhoretz to look into the numerous problems the black men faced in their history as a people. Staples takes this opportunity to accept some of the negative traits blacks have and how they have played a role in fashioning the stereotype he is trying to fight in his text.While quoting Podhoretz somehow makes him deviate from his initial approach, we cannot ignore the fact that Staples has a lot of truths backing up his assertions on black men stereotyping. In the end, this makes the character aspire to change his public and confidential behavior. It even has an impact on his thoughts about people or himself. The author even portrays his lessons in the example he gives on how he changes any tense situations in more friendly occurrences (Staples 268). He shows us how his considerate stand always leads to better results and gets him out of public trouble on numerous occasions. In his classic style, he still refuses to instruct us to follow his model. Staples, in his writing, hopes that we would see it makes sense and adopt it on our own.Another notable thing the author does in the text is how he lets us know he studied at the University of Chicago. This subtle information is an excellent way to make the reader have confidence in his writing since he is learned. He further reveals that he was a Chicago journalist, a position that further cements his public authority and capacity to address the topic in his black oppression essay. To bolster his essay, he still quotes and refers to a well-known essay. For instance, the author references heavily in his text. The way he describes how a white female reacted to him also helps make the text more trusting. He focuses on making us understand her fear by just explaining how he walked and how she answered.He skillfully paints the picture that most white females or people feel frightened whenever they see a black man in an isolated place because they are robotically compelled to think of them as murderers, muggers, and rapists. By doing this, he highlights the fear most people have when around blacks. This brings us to the core message in the essay. Black men in public are often mistaken and misjudged because of reigning racial bias.It does not matter if the perpetrator of the discrimination knows what they are doing on not – the point is it affects the target. Staples also introduces the idea that blacks should try to make themselves agreeable instead of using the confrontational approach of daring the oppressor to stop profiling. This is reminiscent of the fact that he tried different approaches to diffuse tense situations by looking less threatening than other black men – all of which worked in his favor.ConclusionThis essay analyzes the conflict brought about by the bias levels against blacks. Brent acknowledges the fact that, in some instances, white people ensure the minority go through a lot of trouble by judging black men based on preexisting misconceptions. Other than just accepting the racism issue, he also brings out the fact that some of these stereotypes were formed and are still strengthened by how some minority members behave. His unpopular view is brought forth by how he feels, presenting himself as a less dangerous individual makes him more agreeable.Staples says that the few who still conform to the stereotypes cement the stand and make it harder to fight this form of unconscious bias directed towards black men. The essay is full of ethos and addresses a reigning problem from a different point of view. It would be more agreeable and easy to understand by more people who easily goes on the defensive as it is not outwardly confrontational.