In the two essays, “Just Walk on By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space” by Brent Staples and “I’m Not Racist But…” by Neil Bissoondath, there are both differences and similarities. The two authors differ in their opinion on the causes of racism and life experiences involving racism, but are similar in regards to the use of stereotypes in the world
In Brent Staples’ opinion, causes of racism are derived from fear and the insufficient knowledge that a person might have about another that may cause them to be racist. In his piece, he writes, “Another time I was on assignment for a local paper and killing time before an interview. I entered a jewellery store on the city’s affluent Near North Side. The proprietor excused herself and returned with an enormous red Doberman pinscher straining at the end of the 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.” (Staples 227) This quote shows that the woman that owned the jewellery store was afraid that she might get robbed by Staples and therefore acted by protecting herself with her vicious dog, with the intention to scare away the “robber”, whom she believed to be Brent Staples. She assumed that because she was in an affluent neighbourhood and because Brent Staples was black, he was there with the intention to rob her rather than the true reason, which was to kill some time prior to his next interview. She showed prejudice and racism towards Staples because of she was afraid of his skin colour and did not have true information about him.
Neil Bissoondath differs in his definition of racism. He writes that the cause of racism derives from stereotypes and prejudging someone based on their outer appearance. In his essay, he writes, “I think of the mover, a friendly man, who said, “I’m not racist, but the Chinese are the worst drivers on the road.” He was convinced this was so because the shape of their eyes, as far as he could surmise, denied them peripheral vision.” (Bissoondath 271) This statement shows how one race can make a broad sweeping statement about another race. In this case, the mover was prejudging all Chinese people to generalize that they cannot drive properly because of the shape of their eyes. The action of prejudging someone based on their outer appearance is damaging and creates racism between different people, cultures and countries.
In Brent Staples’ life, he has had many life experiences dealing with racism and has experienced racism first hand. Relaying these personal experiences is what he chose to write about in his essay. A life experience that Brent Staples shared is, “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 neighbourhood in an otherwise mean, impoverished section of Chicago…. She cast...