Brent Staples (born 1951 in Chester, Pennsylvania) is an author and editorial writer for the New York Times. His books include An American Love Story and Parallel Time: Growing up In Black and White, which won the Anisfield Wolf Book Award. Specializing in politics and cultural issues, Staples often writes on controversies and issues, including race (his 1986 essay in Ms. Magazine "Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space" is deemed canonical) and the state of the American school system. In 2008 he was appointed to the newspaper's editorial board.
He was a graduate of Widener University (B.A.) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D). His essay "How Hip Hop Lost Its Way and Betrayed Its Fans" was included in Read, Reason, and Write book, edited by Dorothy U. Seyler. His memoir Parallel Time was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
Early years and education
Before Staples was born, his parent moved from rural Virginia to Chester, Pennsylvania, as part of the Great Migration of blacks to industrial cities in the North and Midwest. Chester was then a prosperous small city with a huge shipbuilding industry. The oldest son of nine children, Staples was born in 1951. His family had no money for tuition, his grades were average, and he had taken only a few high-level academic courses in high school, so the expectation was that he would go straight to work. However, he was admitted to Widener University, where he graduated in 1973. Staples enrolled at the University of Chicago where he earned a master's degree in Psychology in 1976, and in 1982 received a PhD in the same field.
Years later, his younger brother, a cocaine dealer, was murdered by one of his clients, and Staples reconsidered his childhood.
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Staples writes, "Being black enriches my experience; it doesn't define me.... I'm writing about universal themes--family and leaving home and developing your own identity--which all Americans can enjoy and understand." As a writer, Staples has worked to correct the myth that the American "black experience" is defined only by poverty, violence, and crime. "I despise the expression [...] There is no such thing. Black people's lives' in this country are too varied to be reduced to a single term."
- "Brent Staples". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- Staples, Brent; Penelope Falk; Jennifer Fox (1999). An American Love Story. Random House. ISBN 0375502998.
- Staples, Brent (1995). Parallel Time: Growing Up in Black and White. HarperCollins. p. 288. ISBN 0380724758.
- Andrew Rosenthal (2005-08-02). "The New York Times Editorial Board". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- Brent Staples (2005-10-31). "Why Race Isn't as 'Black' and 'White' as We Think". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- Grønstad, Asbjørn; Vågnes, Øyvind (2010). Coverscaping: Discovering Album Aesthetics. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 130. ISBN 9788763507745. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- Editorials/Op-Ed (2005-11-25). "Are Japan's Schools Really Better?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "Brent Staples Is Appointed to Times's Editorial Board". The New York Times. 1990-06-07. Retrieved 2008-02-28.