Brent Staples’ Use Of Pathos, Ethos, And Logos In The Black Men And Public Space

June 4, 2022 by Essay Writer

Different emotions, views, and thoughts for countless years have associated with the important topic of race. People from different racial backgrounds have been judged on different levels and treated based on the color of their skin. Brent Staples, a well-known African American writer, stood up and countered the negative stereotyping of African Americans in public spaces with his article, “Black Men and Public Space.” Staples employs many rhetorical uses that enhance more appeal to his life experiences as a black man in public spaces. Staples’ article is a prime example of how racism, despite the advancement made over the years, is still very much present. Staples exposes how black men, despite their credentials and accomplishments in life, are still discriminated against, for merely taking a walk down the street. Staples uses several examples of how different Caucasian Americans display racial stereotyping, from police officers with law enforcement to everyday people walking at night. Staples uncovers how some people can be oblivious, and judge a person based on their skin color without considering other aspects of a person’s life.

Staples emphases, in his article, that no matter how educated, hardworking, or successful black men in America are, Caucasian Americans have a negative outlook and discriminate against blacks in a judgmental way. Staples shows examples of referencing racism that is happening all around us in society, specifically by Caucasian America, regardless of all the growth and progress. Staples purpose of the article is to reveal this repetition, in doing so, allowing the people to take control and remove this powerful influence from society. Staples uses rhetorical devices to relate to the audience, meanwhile managing to convey his point. For example, by identifying with his victims and validating their points of view, he appeals to ethos. Staples offers evidence such as his doctorate in psychology, his time as a journalist, descriptions, and analogies that coincide with logos. Staples sets up an opportunity to emphasize the tone of the article, using a docile tone, accommodating and compliant presenting the audience with the impression that he is willing to do anything to make the people around him comfortable he also uses a guilty tone which is vital in gaining an emotional response from the audience. Staples states, “I grew accustomed to but never comfortable….”. This quote is possibly the most critical statement made the entire passage; it demands the audience to begin feeling the tone of guilt and transfers them into the same situation as the writer. Staples uses intense imagery and imaginative word choices to paint a picture of his encounters, and in doing so, Staples induces the emotions of his readers.

Staples presents more than one audience he speaks to white women and speaks to society as a whole invoking the emotions of his audience by using pathos, enhancing the casual intimate environment established by stories and encounters as a black man on the streets. Staples describes walking behind a white woman who when paying focus to him began to walk faster when she thought Staples was following her; she viewed him as a treat because of the color of his skin. Recurring words such as mean and victim are used to draw a picture in the mind of the audience that as he found himself behind a white woman, that the woman’s initial reaction was adverse. Staples progresses and begins to change the picture; Staples begins to raise the emotions of the reader. For example, he says that “It was in the echo of that terrified woman’s footfalls, that I first began to know the unwieldy inheritance I’d come into, the ability to alter public space in ugly ways”. This quote shows how Staples begins to capture the emotion of the reader, marking misfortunes happening more due to the color of his skin.

The writer’s evidence and stories used show how Staples personal experiences as a black man support his trustworthiness since he does not blame the white women for relating negatively upfront but instead offers relatable information on why they act the way they do. It is evident when you consider the context of this article focusing on racism and discrimination on multiple positions when using rhetorical concepts, impacting the way Staples conducts his writing. Staples shows excellent understanding when it comes to the perspective of the reader; in doing so, this helps establish trust with the audience. Staples reflects on his background, where he grew up and how he was barely noticeable “against the backdrop of gang warfare and street murders”. Staples also goes on to note that amongst a few were brought up as “good boys” showing that he still accomplished to graduate from University with a Ph.D. in psychology. Considering Staples hard background, Staples used contextual evidence to convey to the reader how Staples still managed to stay inspired and prosper to reach certain levels of success in his life. Staples realizations of being a black man expand and improves the trust regarding the message he is conveying. Staples effectively uses a range of emotions to appeal to pathos, which then helps him achieve his purpose, making the audience see the levels of racism and discrimination in public spaces that still exist to date. A final appeal to ethos is made by Staples when he elects to validate his stories by putting forth the experiences of others who had similar encounters — demonstrating the credibility of Staples experiences to the audience since most black males have been through the frequent occurrence of prejudgment.

Using logos Staples references evidence to hold his claims; he says that “It is my equivalent to the cowbell that hikers wear when they know they are in bear country”. Staples persuades the reader about his argument by showing differences of the cowbell that hikers wear, in this instance, compares to Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ to the cowbell and discriminatory Caucasian Americans to the bears. Adopting diverse methods involving unique techniques focused on influencing the audience from a logical standpoint. Staples, for instance, uses his logical dictation not only truthful but is not overstated. For instance, Staples purposely disregards mentioning the exact crime rates in New York; instead, he states, “Women are particularly vulnerable to street violence….”. Staples instead articulates his argument to illustrate that women are the ones regularly targeted. Staples offers his opinion stating, “Young black males are drastically over-represented among the perpetrators of that violence….”. If someone were to study racial stereotyping about violence, black men would lead the top of the list.

Acknowledging the conflicting views of discrimination, Staples confirms that being discriminated against people is the worst experience that a person should have to endure specifically by complete strangers. Staples uses rhetorical devices such as pathos, ethos, and logos efficiently to provide the audience with a glimpse of what black people, especially black men, go though in modern society. Staples using techniques allows him to pull an emotional response from his audience of white women and society while trying to transfer the reader in his shoes, so they empathize with him. Staples fills his article with a relatable style of writing to establish multiple tones; Staples carries his reader from a docile tone to unexpectedly converting the reader to a tone of feeling guilty. Despite what anyone thinks, racial stereotypes and discrimination is still very much alive and has become a part of life for most. Staples expresses his article by conveying powerful words that shouldn’t be taken lightly and causes us to make it a mission to try harder for future societies.

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