“Just Walk On By”

February 20, 2012 § 2 Comments

In the essay “Just Walk on By,” Brent Staples portrays problems that sadly most black men face on a regular basis. This essay reminded me of “White Privilege” and the “Invisible Knapsack.” Black men are judged by their color even doing simple things in everyday life that are usually taken for granted by whites. White people walk down streets, rush late into work, shop at jewelry stores, and report to their jobs without being mistaken for a criminal.

I have received three speeding tickets since age sixteen, and every time I was pulled over by only one cop. In my hometown, almost every time a black person is pulled over they have two cops behind them, assuming that they will act out with violence. It is sad to think that Brent Staples has to walk a certain way, step to the side while people pass him, and whistle just to appease those around him. He could not even go into work without being questioned by security for being a robber, while whites can basically do anything without a hassle. What a fair and just world we live in. NOT.

Another issue I discovered while reading this essay was how gender roles even play into how black teens think they should be portrayed. Many men think that power, fright, and intimidation are in their job description. They are supposed to face hostile situations being tough and ready to fight. The author talks about how he buried several young friends to these troubles. Does our world raise teenage black boys to think they have to act this way? Does society even give them a chance? Do they think that since the world portrays them as criminals, why not just act like one? Will it ever get better?

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§ 2 Responses to “Just Walk On By”

  • nurumu says:

    I had to leave a comment when I read that you were pulled over by only one cop… Last October I got pulled over because supposedly my plates were suspended (they clearly were not) and I had two cops on me. Just a couple of weeks ago I got pulled over again for rolling a stop sign, and once more, there were two cops as opposed to just one. Both times I couldn’t believe or understand why they would need two cops for a young woman who clearly looks harmless. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because of my name? Who knows, but from my perspective there was no justification for making a scene and making it look much worse than what it actually was.

  • You are both describing the issue of racial profiling or what some people refer to as “driving while black,” a situation that has been studied quite a bit. Here’s one source I found: http://www.racialprofilinganalysis.neu.edu/background/history.php

    Black people are not the only one’s who face profiling. Latino and Muslim people increasingly face scrutiny by police.

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