Duneier’s "Sidewalk" Essay

1188 Words 5 Pages
Duneier’s Sidewalk takes place on the streets of Manhattan where on any given day a homeless black man sits on a curb and asks passers by for spare change. He calls out to white women walking by saying, “Hey baby, come over here!” hoping for an interaction. The women briskly walk by with their eyes darted straight ahead and regardless of the lack of verbal reciprocation; he continues to call out after them. In Duneier’s book he points out the problems with the interaction but has a hard time explaining the motive behind the derogatory behavior. Using Patricia Hill Collins’s matrix of domination we can realize that the men’s actions are a result of the difference between their gender, which leads to a desire to over power and oppress women …show more content…
Not every interaction between black men and white women is oppressive and uncomfortable. What differentiates Mudrick’s interactions with others is that he sets a gender focused context to the conversation right from the beginning. When Mudrick calls over the women, he comments on their physical appearance and asks about their marital status. This sets a tone for the conversation that makes women uncomfortable. Collins states “Depending on the context, an individual may be an oppressor, a member of an oppressed group, or simultaneously oppressor and oppressed.“ (Collins 230) Because the focus of the conversation solely relies on the observation that the targeted individual is a woman, Mudrick is able to position himself as the dominant individual for the conversation. When a conversation is started with derogatory gender-central comments it leaves a woman feeling uncomfortable and violated before she even has a chance to speak. But why is it that Mudfrick chooses to be offensive when it continuously does not yield any time of positive reaction? Duneier suggests that it may be because of his inability to experience power in any other way. In a world where the poor homeless African American men have little power, these interactions become their only outlet to exercise control over

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