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Oposites Relate

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Opposites Relate

As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Brent Staples never realized before the strong stereotype against black men has he had the one late night walk. When on a late night walk, Staples, a young black man realized the stereotype that most Americans have of the young black male. As a young white woman was walking that night in front of him and caught a glimpse of Staples approaching her. She became uncomfortable in the situation and responded by running away from Staples. Not until this incident did Staples realize the negative impact of the young black male on other people, often resulting in being intimidated. He was not seen as a young bright adult with a prominent future, rather he was seen as a mugger, or worse yet a rapist. He did not ask to be seen as a misconception of what others may believe him to be. People were often quick to judge him based solely on the color of his skin and nothing else. He was a twenty-two year old black male that stood over six feet with a broad frame. Brent had experienced many instances where people would see him as a person he is not. For example, one time he walked into a jewelry store and instantly the cashier assumed he was about to rob the store. She replied to her false premonition by going to the back of the store and coming out with a Doberman Pincher to chase him away. It is instances like this that can scar an individual and make him doubt oneself, but Brent did not and he found that he could fix the situation. His solution to the problem was whistling. He found that when he would whistle people saw him as less threatening, even thought most low-lifes did not know Beethoven or Mozart. Still, he found ways to deal with his problems and so can everyone else who is judged only on their physical appearance. Similarly to

Brent, I have been judged and looked upon differently for a physical condition that I have no control over.

Like Staples, throughout my whole life I was judged primarily based on how I looked. I have had to endure a physical handicap my whole life. I have what is called Macular Degeneration, and what that is a breaking down of the retina. This has caused me to loose my vision for distance and closer visual needs. Because of this, I need to make several adjustments and use different tactics to do common things that the general public would not have to consider. However, this tends to set me apart from other people because I have to go about numerous activities in different ways. The daily functions that people take for granted, come considerably harder for me, so I need to do things to make the situation less difficult for me. For example, in order for me to read I need to use magnifiers and machines, which makes life extremely more difficult. Staples and I have been judged and discriminated against our whole lives, but for completely different situations.

Even though Brent and I were being judged for completely different situations, in some ways they are quite similar. He was judged only for the reason he was black, which he has no control over, and he cannot do anything to change this appearance of himself. I on the other hand, am constantly looked upon differently for the fact that I am visually impaired, and I have no control over this problem. Many times it makes me wonder why people can be so critical of someone, especially for the fact that they themselves are so far away from being perfect.

In the short essay Brent talks about how he had found that whistling was one way he could prevent himself from getting into dicey situations. It would work as an icebreaker for someone he was approaching. He thought that if someone heard him whistling one of Beethoven's Symphonies, they would think that someone of intelligence must be approaching them; certainly not a mugger or rapist. For



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