Just Walk On By Response

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

I found essay 20, Just Walk On By, very interesting and saddening. The essay, which is about the author’s personal experience of seeing many people, particularly women become frightened of being near him in an isolated area because he is a black man. The author talks about this notion which he calls altering public space because he believes that because of his race/appearance, people would be afraid to be around him. He talks about how he see’s people purposely walk on other sides of  the street just to avoid him or how women would hold onto their purses very tightly whenever he would be near them.

While the author clearly is not a criminal, I find no difficulty in finding why women in particular would act the way they do when they are confronted with a male in an isolated area. Almost every time you turn on your local news, you can be sure to hear about a sexual assault or robbery crime committed by a man against a woman. Criminals find women in isolated areas as easy targets because in general they are physically much weaker than men. Even I must admit that I sometimes get nervous when I am walking alone in an isolated area and I am confronted next to someone who appears to look somewhat shady in my opinion. While I can comfortable state that one’s race has not effect on whether I think they are shady looking, the way one dresses and presents oneself can frighten me. It was just about a month ago when I was coming back from McDonald’s at around 2am in the morning and a man wearing an over sized Yankees jacket and over sized pants asked me what time it was. Since I had my headphones on, I didn’t hear him the first time so my heart immediately skipped a beat and I was mentally ready to run as fast as I could. While I have personally never been harmed by another individual, I think my fear of people who dress in what many would call ghetto attire scares me because in the media it always seems to be those people who dress a certain way who are committing crimes.

The part I found saddening in this essay was when the author talks about how he takes precautions to make himself less threatening. He talks about how he stays away from people on an empty subway or how he whistles melodies from Beethoven to make himself seem less frightening. I think in many ways this is wrong because you should not have to alter your lifestyle to accommodate to another person’s life. While I find some precautions alright such as keeping a distance between yourself and a female walker at night are ok because there are many threats against women who are isolated, taking many other precautions like the author does simply shows how many problems we still have within our society.

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