While America prides itself in declaring it is a free nation where people with different skin colours live in harmony and where democracy is victorious, providing people with the same rights and benefits, the sour truth is that the same America is strongly prejudiced against non-white people.
Not only are they feared or believed to be inferior, but the whites express their superiority through measures which have real deep impact upon the lives of the others. Such is the case of the characters in the novel written in 1982, such is the case with the author of the “Black men and public spaces” essay and such is the case with yesterdays adventure involving Harvard professor Gates.
The characters in “The color purple” communicate their pessimist views regarding the evolution of the Americans society in which the very development of black people is biased. The author suggests that while black people officially have the same rights as the white ones, the prejudice and racism of the latter is manifested so strongly on an everyday basis in all the public spaces that this will surely impact the growth of the black children. The author believes they will either turn out to be cynics or that they will have trouble adapting or manifesting their own identity.
It is exactly the same theme which Staples defends through the power of the personal example. He is a young man with a solid education working as a journalist. Despite that he has to deal with a wrong perception of him in all the environments where he moves because of a single reason, which is his skin colour. He describes his feelings of rage as well as the risk to which he knows he would expose himself if he were prey of his emotions. Not only does he have to deal with that and control himself in humiliating hypostases such as being stopped by the police or being told to go out of a store, but he has to use tricks in order to modify the perception of his identity for the better, such as listening to classical music that even the passers by can hear.
The irony is that while white America fears black America because of its presumed voice, in the end it is the white people who are the aggressive party.
This aggressiveness is on the one hand psychological (and here we have the relevant examples of Staples himself and of professor Gates), and on the other, physical. Staples makes a very good point about the strong connection between fear and violence especially under the circumstances where guns are available (and in urban American environments they are).
Considering his supporting arguments and examples, just as the case of professor Gates, journalist Brent Staples demonstrates, black people in America have been facing strong racial prejudice. Taking into account Alice Walkers book, it is safe to say that the situation has not changed much from the eighties. Both authors under discussion make us understand that this country would be a less violent place if people could stop judging the others based on stereotypes and the colour of their skin.
“Race and ethnicity: life in the melting pot (1878-1899). American Eras, Volume 8: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899. Retrieved May 13, 2010 from http://0-galenet.galegroup.com.library.ccbcmd.edu/servlet/HistRC/hits?docNum=BT2301500421&tab=1&locID=balt47855&origSearch=true&hdb=ALL&t=KW&s=sS&r=d&secondary=true&o=&sortOrder=&n=10&origSubj=Prejudice&l=dR&sgPhrase=true&seg=0&c=1&tabMap=119&bucket=gal&SU=Prejudice
“Racism as a factor in slavery.” History in dispute Retrieved May 13, 2010 from http://0-galenet.galegroup.com.library.ccbcmd.edu/servlet/HistRC/hits?docNum=BT2306200496&tab=1&locID=balt47855&origSearch=false&hdb=ALL&t=RK&s=1&r=d&items=0&secondary=true&o=&sortOrder=&n=10&l=dR&sgPhrase=true&c=1&tabMap=119&bucket=gal&SU=racism
Staples, B. Black men and public spaces. Retrieved May 13, 2010 from http://lhsap11.wikispaces.com/file/view/Black+Men+and+Public+Spaces,+Brent+Staples.pdf
Walker, Al. The color purple. Harcourt. 2003.