Brent Staples is an African American man who points out that due to his skin color and presentation people convey him as a thief or rapist. He argues about several situations in which he was stereotypically distinguished as a thug. He also talks about how he had to change his lifestyle in order to be accepted into his community. In his essay. “Black Men and Public Space”, he effectively argues that African American people are often stereotyped as gang members and dangerous threats. Staples begins by precisely showing that black people are stereotyped as a dangerous threat.
He explains how people react to his presence within his community. “At dark, shadowy intersections in Chicago, I could cross in front of a car at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver-black, white, male, or female- hammering down the door locks… I often witness that “hunch posture,” from women after dark on the warrenlike streets of Brooklyn where I live. They seem to set their faces on neutral and, with purse straps strung across their chests bandolier style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled. ” (p. 65-166) He describes the situation that of him being the ictim of racism.
He sets an example that a black man walking through the streets of New York, dressed in baggy clothing, probably isn’t the best sight to see late at night. In the movie “Crash” we start the movie with Anthony, acted by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, exiting a restaurant and walking down a white dominated community with his friend Peter, acted by Larenz Tate. We then see Anthony complaining about the service they received inside the restaurant and how the white people were given prioritized more than they were.
As they continue walking, we see the white couple, Jean and Rick Cabot, played by Sandra Bullock and Brenden Fraser, walking towards them appearing to be leaving. As Jean immediately sees Anthony and Peter she grasps onto Rick’s arm putting Anthony and Peter under the impression that she was scared to see them. Obviously this was the case, knowing that they were dressed like thugs. She immediately stereotyped them as threats and protected herself. Staples continues with his stereotyping issue as he explains a situation he experienced when he was in Chicago. When I worked as a journalist in Chicago, one day, rushing into the office of a magazine I was writing for with a deadline story in and, I was mistaken for a burglar. The office manager called security… I had no way of proving who I was. I could only move briskly toward the company of someone who knew me. (167) Here we see prejudice upon Staples due to his skin color. Even at his own work place he was distinguished as a threat. This is probably due to how he presented himself. In “Crash” we find Jean and Rick Cabot back at their home arguing about their theft situation.
Due to Jean’s paranoia they ended up changing the locks on their doors to ensure protection. The man changing their locks, Daniel, played by Michael Pena, was portrayed as a Thuggish Hispanic man. Jean didn’t disagree with this portrayal. She became upset and asked if they can change the locks in the morning because she was afraid Daniel would sell them to his “homies” endangering their entire house. She practically stereotyped Daniel as a threat because of his appearance.
To add onto the stereotype, Staples shares a story on how a black male journalist, was mistaken as murderer. “I never fared as badly as another black male journalist… He went to nearby Waukegan, Illinois, a couple of summers ago to work on a story about a murderer who was born there. Mistaking the reporter for the iller, police hauled him from his car at gunpoint. ” (167) In “Crash” we see a situation pretty similar to this one. In the beginning of the movie, we find Anthony and Peter stealing Jean and Rick’s black Lincoln Navigator.
A warrant for their arrest was put out but they were nowhere to be found. Due to this, the local police officers were forced to do random checks to any car they believe could be the stolen vehicle. We then see officer John Ryan, played by Matt Dillon driving around city at night with his partner Tommy (Ryan Phillippe ). They spot a black Navigator being driven y Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife (Christine Thayer) and suspect that it could possibly be the vehicle of the thiefs. Approaching the window, officer John notices that the owners of the car were black. Avoid plagiarism with our checker
He asked them to step out of the vehicle then searched their bodies. Being a black couple in a vehicle with a history of being stolen makes the jobs of the police a lot easier due to stereotypes. Cameron was pretty cooperative and listened to what the cops were telling him to do and saved him and his wife from getting into trouble. Ultimately, Staples remained strong through all the stereotypes he had to put p with. He focuses on changing the way he dresses and presents himself to the Bedrejo 4 people in order for them to look at him more respectfully.
He finally ends saying, “Virtually everybody seems to sense that a mugger wouldn’t be warbling bright, sunny selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country. ” Cofer experienced parts of his life that were very inappropriate and unnecessary. Due to this, it leads him to act like a white person. Him acting like a white person thus causes him to fit into his community a lot better.