When a calm person who wouldn’t hurt

When Brent Staples published his piece, “Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space”, in Ms. magazine it was very controversial. He was a black man, for starters, writing about racial profiling, and he was writing in a feminists’ magazine in 1986. Staples chose to submit his article for publication in Ms. because, according to him, women are who profiled him the most even though they are against the profiling of their gender.

He wanted to show how hypocritical it was of them, and he wanted to put their apprehensions of black men at ease. In his article, Staples utilizes personal experience with other evidence to provide his audience with an insight into his feelings on racial profiling from a black man’s point of view. Staples opens up his article by commenting on the fact that his intimidating appearance combined with his race makes him an easy target for profiling. He recalls a time when he was walking down a street that wasn’t traveled frequently, and he came upon a woman walking alone.

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Staples continues on to say that even though he had no intention of hurting the woman her awareness of his presence influenced her to become apprehensive of him. He could hear her begin to quicken her pace step by step until she was in a full out run. She turned onto a side street to just to get away from him. This was the author’s first dose of racial profiling, and it was from that point on that he was on the lookout for profiling in every interaction he made with someone. The author questions how people can assume an aggressive nature when they don’t know the person. Staples states that he has a hard time putting a knife up to a raw chicken much less a persons throat.

Staples claims he is a calm person who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He then states that when he walks across the street there is a constant thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk in his ear. According to Staples, that is the sound of people locking their doors when they see him in front of their cars. Staples asserts that their assumption of his violence is nothing but arbitrary. Staples then moves on.

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