Staples Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space (233).
Rhodes Why Looks Are the Last Bastion of Discrimination (239).
Also, review MLA citations and Work Cited Page information.
OPTION 1 (CAUSE and EFFECT) of 2 (second option at the end of the COMPARISON and CONTRAST unit): Type a concise, detailed, clear, organized, and engaging causal argument essay (min. 5 paragraphs) regarding the effects of labeling (stereotyping, sexism, racism, etc.) in American society.
Your argument should answer the question Why?
This essay should contain a clear claim stating a cause and an effect, a strong rebuttal, and supporting evidence drawn from at least three relevant, credible sources.
WRITE IN THIRD-PERSON POINT-OF-VIEW. Minimum five (5) paragraphs.
Use MLA citations throughout and a proper WORK CITED PAGE (Chapter 17 and Chapter 18).
NOTE: Still MLA cite the book itself in the Work Cited Page.
“Brent Staples: Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1951, Brent Staples joined the staff of the New York Times in 1985, writing on culture and politics, and he became a member of its editorial board in 1990. His columns appear regularly on the papers op-ed pages. Staples has also written a memoir, Parallel Time: Growing Up in Black and White (1994), about his escape from the poverty and violence of his childhood.
Background on racial profiling Just Walk On By can be read in the light of controversies surrounding racial profiling of criminal suspects, which occurs, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, when the police target someone for investigation on the basis of that persons race, national origin, or ethnicity. Examples of profiling are the use of race to determine which drivers to stop for minor traffic violations (driving while black) and the use of race to determine which motorists or pedestrians to search for contraband. Although law enforcement officials have often denied that they profile criminals solely on the basis of race, studies have shown a high prevalence of police profiling directed primarily at African and Hispanic Americans. A number of states have enacted laws barring racial profiling, and some people have won court settlements when they objected to being interrogated by police solely because of their race. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, people of Arab descent have been targets of heightened interest at airports and elsewhere. In addition, the passage of a strict anti-illegal immigration law in Arizona in 2010 caused many Hispanics to fear that they would be singled out for scrutiny solely on the basis of race. (Just before the bill was scheduled to take effect, a federal judge blocked sections that required police to check immigration status during traffic violations, detentions, and arrests. The United States Supreme Court subsequently upheld that portion of the law.) Clearly, these events, as well as incidents that sparked the current Black Lives Matter movement, have added to the continuing controversy surrounding the association of criminal behavior with particular ethnic groups.
My first victim was a woman white, well dressed, probably in her early twenties. I came upon her late one evening on a deserted street in Hyde Park, a relatively affluent neighborhood in an otherwise mean, impoverished section of Chicago. As I swung onto the avenue behind her, there seemed to be a discreet, uninflammatory distance between us. Not so. She cast back a worried glance. To her, the youngish black man a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket seemed menacingly close. After a few more quick glimpses, she picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. Within seconds she disappeared into a cross street. That was more than a decade ago. I was twenty-two years old, a graduate student newly arrived at the University of Chicago. It was in the echo of that terrified womans footfalls that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance Id come into the ability to alter public space in ugly ways. It was clear that she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, rapist, or worse. Suffering a bout of insomnia, however, I was stalking sleep, not defenseless wayfarers. As a softy who is scarcely able to take a knife to a raw chicken let alone hold it to a persons throat I was surprised, embarrassed, and dismayed all at once. Her flight made me feel like an accomplice in tyranny. It also made it clear that I was indistinguishable from the muggers who occasionally seeped into the area from the surrounding ghetto. That first encounter, and those that followed, signified that a vast, unnerving gulf lay between nighttime pedestrians particularly women and me. And I soon gathered that being perceived as dangerous is a hazard in itself. I only needed to turn a corner into a dicey situation, or crowd some frightened, armed person in a foyer somewhere, or make an errant move after being pulled over by a policeman. Where fear and weapons meet and they often do in urban America there is always the possibility of death. It was in the echo of that terrified womans footfalls that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance Id come into the ability to alter public space in ugly ways.
In that first year, my first away from my hometown, I was to become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear. At dark, shadowy intersections in Chicago, I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver black, white, male, or female hammering down the door locks. On less traveled streets after dark, I grew accustomed to but never comfortable with people who crossed to the other side of the street rather than pass me. Then there were the standard unpleasantries with police, doormen, bouncers, cab drivers, and others whose business it is to screen out troublesome individuals before there is any nastiness. I moved to New York nearly two years ago and I have remained an avid night walker. In central Manhattan, the near-constant crowd cover minimizes tense one-on-one street encounters. Elsewhere visiting friends in SoHo, where sidewalks are narrow and tightly spaced buildings shut out the sky things can get very taut indeed. Black men have a firm place in New York mugging literature. Norman Podhoretz in his famed (or infamous) 1963 essay, My Negro Problem and Ours, recalls growing up in terror of black males; they were tougher than we were, more ruthless, he writes and as an adult on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he continues, he cannot constrain his nervousness when he meets black men on certain streets. Similarly, a decade later, the essayist and novelist Edward Hoagland extols a New York where once Negro bitterness bore down mainly on other Negroes. Where some see mere panhandlers, Hoagland sees a mugger who is clearly screwing up his nerve to do more than just ask for money. But Hoagland has the New Yorkers quick-hunch posture for broken-field maneuvering, and the bad guy swerves away. 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 their purse straps strung across their chests bandolier style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled. I understand, of course, that the danger they perceive is not a hallucination. Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence, and young black males are drastically overrepresented among the perpetrators of that violence. Yet these truths are no solace against the kind of alienation that comes of being ever the suspect, against being set apart, a fearsome entity with whom pedestrians avoid making eye contact. It is not altogether clear to me how I reached the ripe old age of twenty-two without being conscious of the lethality nighttime pedestrians attributed to me. Perhaps it was because in Chester, Pennsylvania, the small, angry industrial town where I came of age in the 1960s, I was scarcely noticeable against a backdrop of gang warfare, street knifings, and murders. I grew up one of the good boys, had perhaps a half-dozen fist fights. In retrospect, my shyness of combat has clear sources. Many things go into the making of a young thug. One of those things is the consummation of the male romance with the power to intimidate. An infant discovers that random flailings send the baby bottle flying out of the crib and crashing to the floor. Delighted, the joyful babe repeats those motions again and again, seeking to duplicate the feat. Just so, I recall the points at which some of my boyhood friends were finally seduced by the perception of themselves as tough guys. When a mark cowered and surrendered his money without resistance, myth and reality merged and paid off. It is, after all, only manly to embrace the power to frighten and intimidate. We, as men, are not supposed to give an inch of our lane on the highway; we are to seize the fighters edge in work and in play and even in love; we are to be valiant in the face of hostile forces. Unfortunately, poor and powerless young men seem to take all this nonsense literally. 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 even unconsciously, to remain a shadow timid, but a survivor. The fearsomeness mistakenly attributed to me in public places often has a perilous flavor. The most frightening of these confusions occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s 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 hand, I was mistaken for a burglar. The office manager called security and, with an ad hoc posse, pursued me through the labyrinthine halls, nearly to my editors door. I had no way of proving who I was. I could only move briskly toward the company of someone who knew me. Another time I was on assignment for a local paper and killing time before an interview. I entered a jewelry store on the citys affluent Near North Side. The proprietor excused herself and returned with an enormous red Doberman pinscher straining at the end of a leash. She stood, the dog extended toward me, silent to my questions, her eyes bulging nearly out of her head. I took a cursory look around, nodded, and bade her good night. Relatively speaking, however, 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 killer, police hauled him from his car at gunpoint and but for his press credentials would probably have tried to book him. Such episodes are not uncommon. Black men trade tales like this all the time. In My Negro Problem and Ours, Podhoretz writes that the hatred he feels for blacks makes itself known to him through a variety of avenues one being his discomfort with that special brand of paranoid touchiness to which he says blacks are prone. No doubt he is speaking here of black men. In time, I learned to smother the rage I felt at so often being taken for a criminal. Not to do so would surely have led to madness via that special paranoid touchiness that so annoyed Podhoretz at the time he wrote the essay. I began to take precautions to make myself less threatening. I move about with care, particularly late in the evening. I give a wide berth to nervous people on subway platforms during the wee hours, particularly when I have exchanged business clothes for jeans. If I happen to be entering a building behind some people who appear skittish, I may walk by, letting them clear the lobby before I return, so as not to seem to be following them. I have been calm and extremely congenial on those rare occasions when Ive been pulled over by the police. And on late-evening constitutionals along streets less traveled by, I employ what has proved to be an excellent tension-reducing measure: I whistle melodies from Beethoven and Vivaldi and the more popular classical composers. Even steely New Yorkers hunching toward nighttime destinations seem to relax, and occasionally they even join in the tune. Virtually everybody seems to sense that a mugger wouldnt be warbling bright, sunny selections from Vivaldis Four Seasons. It is my equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country. Comprehension Why does Staples characterize the woman he encounters in paragraph 1 as a victim? What does Staples mean when he says he has the power to alter public space (2)? Why does Staples walk the streets at night? What things, in Stapless opinion, contribute to the making of a young thug (8)? According to Staples, why are young, poor, and powerless men especially likely to become thugs? How does Staples attempt to make himself less threatening? Purpose and Audience What is Stapless thesis? Does he state it or imply it? Does Staples use logic, emotion, or a combination of the two to appeal to his readers? How appropriate is his strategy? What preconceptions does Staples assume his audience has? How does he challenge these preconceptions? What is Staples trying to accomplish with his first sentence? Do you think he succeeds? Why or why not? Style and Structure Why does Staples mention Norman Podhoretz? Could he make the same points without referring to Podhoretzs essay? Staples begins his essay with an anecdote. How effective is this strategy? Do you think another opening strategy would be more effective? Explain. Does Staples present enough examples to support his thesis? Are they representative? Would other types of examples be more convincing? Explain. In what order does Staples present his examples? Would another order be more effective? Explain. Vocabulary Project. In paragraph 8, Staples uses the word thug. List as many synonyms as you can for this word. Do all these words convey the same idea, or do they differ in their connotations? Explain. (If you like, consult an online thesaurus at thesaurus.com.) Journal Entry Have you ever been in a situation such as the ones Staples describes, where you perceived someone (or someone perceived you) as threatening? How did you react? After reading Stapless essay, do you think you would react the same way now? Writing Workshop Use your journal entry to help you write an essay using a single long example to support this statement: When walking alone at night, you can (or cannot) be too careful. Working with Sources. Relying on examples from your own experience and from Stapless essay, write an essay discussing what part you think race plays in peoples reactions to Staples. Do you think his perceptions are accurate? Be sure to include parenthetical documentation for Stapless words and ideas and a works-cited page. (See Chapter 18 for information on MLA documentation.) How accurate is Stapless observation concerning the male romance with the power to intimidate (8)? What does he mean by this statement? What examples from your own experience support (or do not support) the idea that this romance is an element of male upbringing in our society? Combining the Patterns In paragraph 8, Staples uses cause and effect to demonstrate what goes into the making of a young thug. Would several examples have better explained how a youth becomes a thug? Thematic Connections A Peaceful Woman Explains Why She Carries a Gun (page 350) Emmett Till and Tamir Rice, Sons of the Great Migration (page 422) The Ways We Lie (page 466) Letter from Birmingham Jail (page 558)”