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Black Men in Public Spaces (topic: Language of Fear)

Essay by   •  March 22, 2012  •  Essay  •  513 Words (3 Pages)  •  2,100 Views

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Of all the emotions people have, the most multifarious is fear because fear can be aroused much easier than most emotions. The dictionary defines fear as "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat". However, the perception of fear or danger can be altered. People can create the illusion of endangerment by using bias, predetermined judgments, and stereotypes. In "Black Men in Public Spaces", the author describes how his skin color could cause uneasiness in people and how he had to moderate his behavior to accommodate them. Although unfair, Staples' describes the measures he took to prove he was not the stereotype society expected him to be.

Fear can come from the unknown or from dangers happening presently. But as Staples' tells his story, it seems evident that the people who feared him only felt that way because they were following an unjust stereotype. In effect, creating danger where there was none before. It is unfortunate because in many cases the stereotype is an inaccurate representation of a certain group of people and can inadvertently produce bigotry. Those who experience the sting of being scrutinized often become isolated or angry at society. Staples' mentions in his story how he chose to "remain a shadow - timid but a survivor" to contrast the attitude belonging to his friend, brother, and cousin who he says had "all gone down in episodes of bravado on the street". The way the author accepts the misconstrued preconceptions implemented on him and people of his race shows how cruel and ignorant society can be when judging their fellow man.

In addition, fear is a natural defense mechanism in the human brain. Whether the fear is justified or not, our bodies and faces can show that we feel threatened. For instance, common indicators of fear include fast walking, looking over the shoulder, muscle tension, and avoidance of eye contact. All of these signs are displayed by the women in Staples' story. He says "they seem to have their faces set on neutral, and with their purse straps strung across their chests bandolier-style, they forge ahead as though bracing themselves against being tackled". The tragedy is that these people who fear Staples' without cause are creating anxiety for themselves and others, thus adding fire to the flames.

In conclusion, the language of fear is fluent to all human beings but the message portrayed in "Black Men in Public Spaces" is that although there may be prejudice against someone they should do their best to overcome it. It is really admiring how the author triumphs racism by not letting the injustice consume him. He could have easily let the bias against him "alter public space in ugly ways" as he mentions, but it is inspirational how his emotional strength allows him to be the bigger person when he is misjudged. Fear

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