Walk on By

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today in class we talked about the type of people that scare us or threaten our feeling of safety. The Essay “Just Walk on By” shows us one of the most prominent stereotypes that threaten many people’s feeling of safety. In the essay, Brent Staples talks about big, muscular black men as the threat. He personally experienced the fear of women, he witnessed their feelings of anxiety and struggled with what to do. The essay, in a way, broke my heart, he couldn’t help it that he looked like your stereotypical thug. The fact that this threat is out there is really unfortunate, but I think he handled his situation extremely well. In the essay, he talks about the ways that he eased the tension and I think that they all seemed very effective even though they were sometimes inconvenient to him. The thing he did that stuck out to me the most was when he would whistle classical tunes, he was very clever to think of this action, who would suspect a man whistling classical tunes to be a thug? He could have just done nothing and let people be scared of him, but he cared enough to do something about the situation.


In class it was mentioned that different people are scared of different people and it isn’t only women who feel threatened when alone. A white man singing about guns, a man with his pants low, a big muscular black man, they all have something in common, they threaten us. But why? Past experiences tell us that they are a treat and they can hurt us. We all buy into this stereotype. Should we? I know plenty of big strong muscular men, but I’m not scared of them. It is being safe to be worried, but is walking faster or clutching your purse tighter, or looking back going to help when real danger is near. I was taught early on that being confident is very important while walking alone. My mom taught me that when walking alone it is better to look strong and confident than weak and scared. I believe this wholeheartedly. This confidence that I portray while walking helps me feel less scared. Have I been scared before? Of course! But I have learned to not look scared, which I think is something everyone should learn. Scared and weak creates a good target, they won’t fight back, they won’t cause trouble. Don’t let anyone think that about you. So, I know that I kind of took a turn of events but I just feel that it is important for people to look out for themselves and know how to act to be and feel more safe.


So back to stereotypes and people who threaten us. Not only is it types of people, it is also places, which is mentioned in Brent Staples essay as well. I think place plays a big role in how people feel threatened or why. In a big city it is more likely for their to be gangs and criminals, or so we think. We think that so we react more when in those places. I grew up in a small town so I really can see the difference that a place makes. When at home, I can walk around at night and go wherever and never feel threatened or at risk, but when on a family vacation in Chicago, I felt like I needed to be more cautious just because of where I was. So many things go into what threatens us and what doesn’t. The essay is specifically talking about black males, which I definitely think are the most targeted as criminals or thugs because of societal stereotypes, I wish this wasn’t true, but it is so we have to learn to adjust to it. I respect Brent Staples and commend him for doing his best to put people at ease, he is the kind of man I want roaming the streets at night.


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