In Brent Staples “Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space,” and Zora Hurston’s “How it feels to Be Colored Me,” both authors face discrimination because of their color. While each author begins to feel discrimination in their lives, they accept how they are treated in society, and they both overcome being angry at others for the way they were treated. While both authors face being discriminated against during their lives they realize that society treats them differently.Staples begins to feel this discrimination after moving to New York, he would walk the streets at night and he felt that others became nervous around him because of his color, especially white women. The author says “It was clear that she thought herself the quarry of a mugger, a rapist, or worse” (Staples 383).
Staples shows that society put him into a category that was only based on his color. Staples begins to feel more familiar with others actions around him.Hurston also feels discrimination based on her color while growing up, she says “I remember the very day that I became colored” (Hurston 182). The author states “I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl” (Hurston 183). Hurston figures out that society viewed her differently than she viewed herself; while this didn’t upset her she was aware that she was treated differently because of her color. Staples accepts the way people act around him, while Hurston realizes that character is more important than race.Although both authors are put into a stereotype that is based on their color, they both decided to accept the way they were treated while moving on with their lives.
Each author begins to show how they accept the way they are treated. Staples and Hurston both feel discriminated against but they choose to accept this way of life. While staples was put into a stereotype of a black man who might be a rapist or a mugger, he decides to make an effort to make others comfortable in public space.
Staples says “In that first year, my first away from my hometown, I was to become thoroughly familiar with the language of fear” (384). Staples is aware that others fear him just based on his appearance but he makes an effort to let others around him feel more comfortable by giving others space and not getting too close to the other person, he also made sure it didn’t seem as if he was following anyone, and he remained calm in every situation. By making others around him feel more comfortable, he is trying to show them that just because he is black doesn’t mean he fits into the stereotype of some black men.Hurston starts to accept discrimination and has as outlook on life to where she decides to get over feeling like a victim, slavery was in the past and they needed to move on. The author says “Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry.
It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of company? It’s beyond me” (Hurston 185). Hurston doesn’t understand why an individual would put someone in a stereotype; it is obvious that we are all more similar to each other than we are distant.Hurston does not want to be stuck in life because she is treated differently, she wants to move on with her life and not get stuck thinking about what has already happened in the past. Both authors feel that others shouldn’t feel sorry for them and they should now be able to focus on the future rather than what has happened in the past.
Both authors overcome being angry at others for treating them differently based on their color, but they both decide to live their lives, while not worrying about discrimination or stereotypes.Staples says “I chose, perhaps unconsciously, to remain a shadow – timid, but a survivor” (385). While Staples admits to being a shy individual it is ironic that he is seen as a scary individual. Society views him in a black stereotype when really Staples is a caring individual who was surprised and embarrassed by the thought of someone being afraid of him. Staples also realizes that women feel vulnerable; violence is real in society and he understands the stereotype he is put into and he doesn’t blame women for feeling afraid of him.
When the author says “equivalent of the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country” (Staples 386), he may be referring to giving others a hint that he is not the bad guy, he is only trying to show others that just because he is a black man doesn’t mean he can’t be trusted. Hurston also overcomes being angry at others for being put into a stereotype and she decides to not feel sorry for herself. She says “I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it” (Hurston 183).Instead of feeling sorry for herself Hurston views discrimination like a paper bags in which we are all different colors but we all contain similar contents in our bags no matter what color we are (Hurston 186). While Staples talks about being embarrassed for people being scared of him, Hurston also speaks of feeling embarrassed about how people were treated based only on the color of their skin. She refers to the “dark ghost” and how she was embarrassed about the past, but everything was gained for the colored and they were able to move up in life (Hurston 184).
Staples and Hurston view discrimination in different ways but they both choose to overcome being angry about something they couldn’t change. In “Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me,” each story shows how discrimination doesn’t have to stop an individual from living out their life. Individuals can either choose to feel sorry for themselves for being put into a stereotype or they can accept the way they are treated by society.The color of your skin should not define who you are as a person, but the contents which you bring should represent who you are. While Staples and Hurston accept that they are treated differently for being colored, they face having to overcome being upset at others for treating them like they are distant to society, while also seeing racism as something in the past that should not be focused on but looked at as something that has already happened in life.