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Copy of Black Men and Public Spaces: Analysis
Transcript of Copy of Black Men and Public Spaces: Analysis
Structure and Audience
Subject and Purpose
Black Men and Public Space
Subject: His effect on other people.
Appeal to Character
The author frequently narrates his personal experiences, reinforcing his message and making the audience sympathetic to his point of view.
Primarily, this paper is structured as a cause and effect essay.
States he has "the ability to alter public space in ugly ways".
Able to make others behave differently based on his appearance.
"I grew up one of the good boys, had perhaps a half-dozen fistfights."
Examples of his "ability":
Throughout the paper, Staples describes himself in scenarios, and proceeds to tell how people around him react.
Beard, billowing hair, military jacket: frightens women.
Justin Hunsaker - Cody Weidner - Chandler Simpson - Austin Trent
Prevents this by taking care around others, giving them enough space, whistle musical melodies.
Purpose: Inform the audience of his experiences and point of view.
Staples chose this style of structure in order to better relay his message.
Scared a woman in Chicago
These personal insights support the argument made by his previous anecdotes, contrasting his peaceful nature with the violent savage society imagines him to be.
Mistaken for a burglar in the 80s
Proprietor in a jewelry store retrieves a Doberman for safety
Another black journalist mistakenly arrested
"At dark, shadowy intersections, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver-black, white, male or female-hammering down the door locks."
Speaking of contrast...
"As a boy, I saw countless tough guys locked away; I have since buried several, too. They were babies, really-a teenage cousin, a brother of twenty-two, a childhood friend in his mid-twenties-all gone down in episodes of bravado played out in the streets. I came to doubt the virtues of intimidation early on. I chose, perhaps unconsciously, to remain a shadow-timid, but a survivor."
Such stories provide the audience with a perspective essential to understanding the author's point of view, and make his testimony all the more meaningful and impactful.
They allow us to peek inside the author's life-not just to understand what he believes, but also what he feels. The more the reader understands the author's perspective, the more trustworthy he becomes.
These stories in particular also support the argument that the author is unfairly judged by society. Despite the author's timid and nonconfrontational nature, the drivers who glance at him on the city streets see a menacing predator.
And on the topic of character...
"As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken-let alone hold one to a person's throat-I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once."
By attesting to his positive attributes, Staple's both refutes the judgements cast down upon him and builds a positive reputation with the audience- "I'm one of you-not violent, like those guys."
Each of the examples listed above also play a part in a rhetorical strategy that encompasses the entire essay-comparison and contrast. Throughout his writing, Staples makes his point by contrasting his personality as a "softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken" against the violent alpha male passerby on the street see him as.
The author's use of diction throughout the
essay changes his overall outlook and how
people in the future may react to other
people walking down the street.
Presents his point of view to the audience
Shows the audience what it's like for the "menacing" guy.
The words that the author uses gives him
the professional appearance that he has earned,
because believe it or not, the author is has a Ph.D. in Psychology!
Brent Staples' Use of
Staples' Voice And
Throughout the Essay Staples uses sentences
that the reader may be able to relate to or
connect with in an emotional way.
"It was clear that she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist, or worse."
Staples' soon after described that he (suffering from insomnia) "was [actually] stalking sleep, not defenseless wayfarers."
The reader can almost see the distressed look on Brent Staples' face as he realized how he can "alter the public space in ugly ways." His Professional, yet obviously concerned tone, makes also makes the reader "feel for him", or connect with his undeniable emotional crisis.
When the author told the story
about him walking down the
street and the woman took
off running, he stated that...
Words such as:
"My first victim", Dicey, Solace, Ad hoc,
Discreet, Cursory, Congenial, Tyrrany,
Bravado, Skittish, etc.
Staples gives both a literal and an implied message in this essay.
Literal: His appearance in certain situations can cause discomfort due to his race.
Implied: People can be very quick to judge and stereotype others based purely off of what they have heard and what they see.
"To her, the youngish black man - a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pocets of a bulky military jacket - seemed menacingly close."
"After dark, on the warrenlike streets of Brooklyn where I live, I often see women who fear the worst from me...I understand, of course...women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence."
SUPPORTING THE STRUCTURE
Staples uses other types of structuring in order to strengthen his original cause and effect style.
One of these is a chronological structure.
Staples uses a chronological sense of orginization in order to tell his stories because people like timelines.
It gives them a reference point to start at and an ending point to compare to.
This makes it easier to compare where they started to where they finished and see the casues and effects easier.
Chronological Order (evidence)
"That was more than a decade ago..."
"I moved to New York nearly two years ago..."
"Over the years..."
This essay appears to be written for a more intelligent and free thinking audience. The fact that it was published in Ms. Magazine shows it may have been directed only towards women.
The paper was originally published into Ms. Magazine which is a highly feminist publication. The original title, "Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space" seems to appeal to women more by including the term "Just Walk on By".
This title was later changed to "Black Men and Public Space", a much less specific title that invites more readers from different demographics.
Staples most likely chose to publish this article in Ms. Magazine in order to reach the audience that the essay was mainly referring to.
His message related mostly to women and he wanted his implied message to reach that group.
In terms of making a statement, Staples used both his publishing choice and titling to appeal to a more feminine audience. This was the audience that was most affected by "Black Men in Public Space".