Comparison between “Black Men and Public spaces” and “White Man’s Burden”
Stereotyping racial groups is still very common in our modern society. In the essay “Black Men and Public spaces”, Brent Staples describes the fear that people have of black men in public areas, and clearly points out what the stereotype looks like. On the other hand, the movie “White Man’s Burden” shows a reversal role of African Americans in today’s society. Here, the Afro Americans are the majority and whites are the minority. This movie gives another point of view of the roles of African Americans in the U.S.
Essay’s display of Stereotypical roles of African Americans
From the essay’s point of view, the financial situation of the African Americans is not explicit, but rather implied. When Mr. Staples talks about people fearing him, in particular white females, and mistakenly confusing him with a mugger from the surrounding ghetto, he indirectly implies that whites usually picture blacks being poor and living in bad neighborhoods, such as ghettos. People tend to connect poverty with criminality, thus being very fearful of walking alone in a poor neighborhood. The stereotyping overshadows the truth that the majority of blacks in the U.S today actually are middle class people.
Society’s stereotypical stamp on African Americans has many different definitions. A few of the more negative examples is stated in Mr. Staple’s essay. He talks about being seen as a mugger, a rapist or even worse. Not to mention being mistreated by the police because he “fitted the description”, or much worse, being mistaken for a burglar when walking into the office of his own job. All of these assumptions put black men in a very awkward position. It has come to a point where they have to take precautions to make themselves less threatening. An example is Mr. Staple himself. He tells that he nowadays move about with care, especially late at nights. He even keeps his distance from nervous people on the subway, while wearing jeans during wee hours.
Movie’s display of stereotypical roles of whites Louis Pinnock, who is played by John Travolta, is a reliable blue-collar man, who works at a factory with a merely good pay. He has to support his family single handedly, and when he gets fired from his job, he loses everything in his life. This shows how dependent he is on his job. When he tries to find another job, he faces rejection after rejection. He is a perfect example of the stereotype of white people’s financial situation in the movie.
In the movie, white people are actually the victims of having negative stereotypical roles in society. Here, the African Americans look down on white people because they see them as criminals and fear them due to the stereotypical role they have in society. Also, white people are displayed as being poor, living in bad neighborhoods and dealing with gang violence. A few examples from the movie that can be of significant importance is the scene where Pinnock is mistakenly accused by the police, who by the way are all black, of committing a crime he did not commit, simply because he “fits the description” of a white male that they are looking for. Another example comes from the ending scenes of the movie, where Pinnock gets shot by the police just because he happens to make a hasty move with his hand, when he really is trying to save the life of a black man who is lying on the ground below him.
Stereotypical roles of people in today’s society are due to the ignorance and lack of knowledge of human beings. Fear or ignorance of the unknown is the main reason why people make assumptions. To generalize is the biggest fault of the human mind. Both the essay and the movie are good examples of stereotypical roles of African Americans today.