Gladwell would be in agreement with Staplesregarding the risk of generalization and stereotypes. He wouldidentify with Staples experience of profiling based on race. Heexplains how risky it would be if you are deemed dangerous while inthe real sense, you are not. He gives the example of the many AfricanAmericans that were shot simply because they were in the wrongneighborhood at the wrong time. It is not their fault that they died.They died because the society and the authorities have painted themwith a single broad brush.
Gladwell would recognize the problem that BrentStaples was experiencing and classify it as a stereotype. Stablesmoved to Chicago when he was 23 and started being profiled for hiscolor (Staples 2). He immediately became conscious of his skin colorbecause people began to profile him. Having grown in a predominantlyblack neighborhood, Staples had never felt alienated because of hisancestry. Gladwell cites the change oftact by the NYPD as the main reason behind the decrease in the levelof crime in New York. Unlike before when the force targetedminorities that were likely to commit a crime, the new strategyinvolved increasing the number of officers in high impact areas-areas experiencing an upsurge in crime at a particular instant.
Gladwell would respond in the negativeregarding Staple’s argument that such acts of fear contribute tothe making of a thug. Mr. Staples indicates that young AfricanAmerican men may feel motivated if people started to give them theirpurses and wallets during an encounter in the middle of the night. AsGladwell puts it, the rotten elements of any group do not need themotivation of a stereotype to propel them to greater heights of theircriminal activity. In such a scenario, the category of black malesthat is inclined to criminal activities will take the purse whenoffered. However, the other category that is made up of law- abidingblack males will politely decline the purse from the terrifiedpasserby.
Gladwell would agree with Staple’s argumentabout how wrong it is to stereotype an unspecific group when tryingto solve a problem. Gladwell gives the example of a pit bull thatattacked a young family (Gladwell1). It took the intervention ofneighbors and the police to save the mother and son from the dogs.The following week, the Ontario Legislature banned the ownership ofpit bulls. The legislature had made the step based on a largegeneralization of pit bulls. Only a small percentage of pit bulls hadbeen reported to attack people in this particular area. Other breedshad also incriminated in dog attacks towards human beings. However,the legislature decided to focus on the pit bull leaving the otheraggressive dogs to continue living among people. Gladwell’sargument is that generalizations are usually not facts. The issue ofpit bulls attacking humans is a category problem.
The reason that the people of Chicago wereweary of Staples is a generalization or stereotyping. It is true thatyoung males of the African American descent are overrepresented inthe crime statistics. The figures in our prisons further prove thepoint. However, the problem is categorical (Gladwell3). Not all blackmales are criminals or criminals- to- be. Some are raised in decentfamilies and neighborhoods. Skin color does not drive anyone tocommit crime. Factors that are likely to drive black males towardscrime include drug abuse, peer pressure and lack of education. Thisparticular category of young black males is likely to engage incrime. Even then, some that fall in this category may not opt forcrime. Some that does not match the description of this category mayalso engage in crime. Gladwell’s point is that generalizations domore harm than good.
In Staples’s cases, the residents of Chicagowere trying to stay safe- only that they were doing it in the wrongway. A thug does not have to be a young black male. The residentswere only taking precaution against Staples but assuming every otherperson was safe to hand around. He wonders if the young woman thatwas running from Staples ran right into the hands of a Caucasianrapist. Statistics have shown that every race is represented inmuggings, rape and robbery. Criminals have also become cleverer. Theyare now aware that the public is only weary of young black males.Criminals that do not match the description can easily thrive amongthe people.
In regard to stereotypes, Gladwell would labethe experience of Staples as an act of crime against human rights. Infact, Gladwell argues (4), terrorists have advanced their skills. Themodern jihadists are no longer young men of Arab or Pakistani origin-they come in various races and gender. The same applies to criminalsin the USA. They have taken different forms other than thestereotypical black African American Male.
In conclusion, Gladwell suggests the use ofspecific traits in the categorization of a group of people. Forinstance, the police have adopted a new criterion to identify drugsmuggling suspects at border checks instead of the stereotypicalblack or Latinos carrying big bags. The department has specified thecriteria to include nervous individuals that look uneasy. They alsodo not communicate. However, the criterion is not conclusive, but ithas nabbed more criminals than the traditional generalizations.
GladwellMalcolm.“Troublemakers”.TheNew Yorker. Web,.Accessed, 10 November, 2015,<http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/02/06/troublemakers-2>
Staples Brent. “Justwalk on by.” Web,. Accessed, 10November, 2015<http://web.uncg.edu/dcl/courses/sociology101/content/episode7/PDF/BrentStaples.pdf>