Racism. We have all experienced racism at least once in our lives. Being judged by for the color of your skin. Your thoughts do not matter. Nor do your feelings. That is what is in the mind of a racist. Alongside racism are stereotypes. Stereotypes are a conventional, opinionated judgement that can create tough misconceptions of certain people, which many times are easily recognized and understood by others who share the same views. In “ Black men in public spaces” by Brent Staples, and in ” The Myth of A Latin Woman ” by Cofer, the authors talk about stereotypes and the different but similar expierences they both encounter.
Brent Staples explains how people classify him as being a robber or a rapist, just for being a young, black male. Staples starts off his essay with a personal experience, “ 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, unimflammatory distance behind us. Then, Staples goes on talking about how the woman casts back “ a worried glance”, and “ picked up her pace and was soon running in earnest. ” The author also explains that the woman only did this because “ 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. ” But would it have made a difference if he wasn’t black? Staples also made it a habit to whistle classical music while in dark alley situations.
He did this to ease the situation up a bit, trying to differ the type of attention that the stereotypical uneducated black male receives. He dealt with his stereotype in a calm manner by changing his behavior to make people less nervous around him. Similarly Cofer was stereotyped as maid, waitress, and sexual object. Cofer did not fit her stereotype either. She was a college educated individual. She also handles her stereotype in a calm manner. Her goal however, is to replace stereotype with a much more interesting set of realities.
Both Staples and Cofer were stereotyped as someone else. Cofers point in his short story was that even though he was an educated, harmless, young man, society decided to brand him with a rubber stamp. You cannot blame commonality for asking if Martin Luther King’s speech has made a difference in American life today. Indeed, his speech has made a great difference. But to those who choose to attain mental incapacity, they will remain believing they are to judge. They will follow these cliches’, and then be a part of the bitter majority in this country.