The mere presence of black men contain the power to invoke awe, discomfort and intimidation. This power, however, does not justify the grossly apologetic attitude and extreme behavior modification that Brent Staples exercised for the simple purpose of alleviating the fears and suspicions aroused by the presence of a black man. Brent says he smothered the rage that surely would have turned to madness, he kept a wide distance from people on subways who appeared to be nervous especially during the wee hours, and even moreso if he had changed from professional attire into jeans. Brent, in his own words, allowed people to walk by so he didn't appear to be following them. In my opinion, this is overkill to accommodate the expectations and assuage the racially sterotypic and unrealistic suspicions of others.
Smothering rage to prevent it from turning to madness is not only tantalizing but is an unnecessary, unreasonable emotion and expectation to tangle with for the mere purpose of fitting, functioning and thriving in one's rightful habitat of choice. Brent Staples' concerted efforts to keep wide distances from people on subways who appeared to be nervous and allowing people to walk by so he didn't appear to be following them is equivalent to sacrificing freedom of expression and failing or neglecting to celebrate his God gifted image which is black with billowing hair, engaging, unique, captivating and yes, perhaps sometimes imposing. Repressing one's God given identity is a premium price to pay for not only the mere acceptance but the validation of one's existence.
Staples during night walks down an empty street where one other person is present - a white woman acting petrified speeds up her pace, tightly reinforces her hold on her purse strap and eventually crosses to the other side of the street to escape the deadly harm this black man is sure to inflict upon her. At dark, shadowy intersections, crossing in front of a car stopped at traffic...
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