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A Report from Occupied Territory by James Baldwin

Posted by Angel Pacheco on

1. There is a lot of cultural information present in James Baldwin’s essay. The usage of the N-word in the essay is symbolic of the brutal systems of racism present at the time and a system of which the effects can still be seen today. Baldwin also goes into great depths to explain how the police (and by extension the law system) works as an enemy of African American people in America. This creates a lot of resentment between the people and the law. Some people took it upon themselves to speak out against the police for the unjust treatment they faced but as Baldwin goes to great detail to describe, they were treated horribly, and in many cases beaten brutally by the police forces.

2. Some questions a fieldworker may ask are:

To people: Do you feel the police are against you? What kind of unjust treatment have you personally witnessed or have been affected by? Do you think people of color still experience this brutal, unfair treatment today? How can you survive in a system that is working to keep you down?

3. I think other sources of information a field worker can use are asking people who have lived in Harlem during the time period. Asking them questions such as “How their experience was like during the time period. the things they witnessed etc.” Even people who were not around then, but are currently living in Harlem would likely provide valuable information. In addition, simply living in Harlem for a time would be useful to get information on insider culture.


Response to “A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin.

Posted by Yaya Camara on

James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territory” tells the story of the Harlem Six and two older men who were brutalized under the New York Police Department. Unfortunately, this is not the first case of brutality towards Blacks and other minorities, and it certainly will not be the last.

Through years of brutalization from their white counterparts, Blacks were able to learn from past tragedies in order to help them maneuver safely in the future. Some examples of this cultural information are the belief that the police are “the hired enemies of (Blacks and minorities) and they are hired to keep Blacks in place and protect white business interests”. This belief still stands in the Black community because of decades of mistreatment police forces are displaying towards Blacks. Consequently, minorities learned that it is always best to keep someone around them because of the brutality. Another example of cultural information Baldwin includes in his writing was when he was explaining the purpose of police forces in the country. Baldwin argues that the police are not enforcing the laws that they embody daily, but instead are putting the laws and their interests above the heads of minorities. Baldwin argues that “respecting the law means surrendering his self-respect” and this fact is shared between many Blacks across the nation for hundreds of years.  

There are many questions a fieldworker may ask to further discover the African American culture discovered in the article. One example can be: What is the history between police force in the U.S. and minorities and does that history justify the reason in implementing frisking laws that target minorities disproportionately? A fieldworker can also ask about the living situations of Blacks in Harlem. Why are they only getting menial jobs, and why are some so discouraged that they prefer being in the street?  

Additionally, a field worker can investigate many sources to penetrate the insider perspective. For instance, a fieldworker can interview many people who were close to the Harlem six and the two older men, for instance, family, teachers and pastors. A fieldworker can also interview many community organizations like the NAACP and the YMCA for their takes on NYPD’s policing strategies and their use of excessive force. Lastly, fieldworkers can also interview Blacks who tried to get a higher education and saw no results in terms of success; how has that impacted their lives?  


A Report from Occupied Territory

Posted by Mohammed Hossain on

Racial discrimination was a huge problem in American society back in the days. The whole country was segregated basically in everything between African Americans and White Americans. The schools, public bathroom, and many more things were separated between White American and African American. Also, at the time the White Americans were superior to the African Americans. Meaning the White Americans ruled over America and had all the power in their hands. Prime example would be the Harlem Six. They were charged with a murder and basically couldn’t do anything about it and faced jail time just because they were dark skin. There was many other cases where White Americans showed their superiority(hate) over the African Americans.

Some questions for fieldworkers to ask to uncover for information are

How often do you go outside?

What kind of people are being arrested? Are they educated or not?

How often do you see police beating up a person on the streets?

Have you had any interactions with the police?

If you have any problems are you willing go to police for help?

To get an insider perspective, a fieldworker should have an informant in the police department and live in the community where the issue is. Having an informant will lead you to get information such what are they thinking and why are they taking the actions they are taking. This can be very risky because you never know what they will due to the informant if they even suspect him/her. Also, living in a neighborhood like that will give you firsthand experience. You will get to see what happening for yourself.


Response to “A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin

Posted by Sharon Leal on

After reading Baldwin’s essay, I believe the cultural information included in the article would be the way they speak, how grammatically incorrect they are and yet seem to be understood easily. I believe this shows how different African Americans and white people speak. I also found it absurd that the police had such a strong negative reaction to the boys who overturned the fruit stand and wholeheartedly agree that had the boys been white, the chance of police taking out their guns would have been much more nonexistent. I think this shows an insight into police behavior, rules/rituals. The use of the N word is also prominent to expose perception and how they distinguish who they deem to be good and bad. 

A fieldworker might ask 

Have the police been around there before?

Have they interacted with you before the incident?

Have you been on this street for long?

Do people who are approached know their rights and enact them? 

Do police interactions differ when speaking to different subgroups in the community? 

A fieldworker might insert themselves into the lives of the people living in the area, get to know everyone in the area by providing help to the street vendor whose eye is now missing. A fieldworker should familiarize themselves with the people they would like to study/ observe. A fieldworker’s best bet would be to use the insider stance by inserting themselves into the community and just observe all that is going on without manipulating it or changing it, having any effect on it at all could possibly jeopardize the investigation like Dunier did in Sidewalk when he inserted himself into a police altercation which I believe led to more troubles for the street vendors. Also, having someone be an inside man for fieldworkers might be good because you have a public figure in the community who everyone trusts and they might be able to vouch for you and help you infiltrate the community you’re trying to study. 


Response to “A Report from Occupied Territory”

Posted by JingWen Lei on

Racism has been brought out to the country since ancient times. Whether it was to the blacks, Asians or any other race, racism always existed. In this case, the negros were being abused by the white cops. The blacks were never sought as equal to the southern residents of America. Even if the blacks or negros were seen as animals in the eyes of whites, the blacks still had family that they had to take care of. In the article, a salesman named Frank Stafford has been brutally abused by the cops. Even though he has lost half his vision due to the encounter with the cops, he hasn’t sought revenge on the cops. Instead, he decides to take care of his family. This shows that no matter the race, everyone cares or deems their family more important than anything else in the world. Frank inspires many and if the past has seen the future meaning Frank, then the past would be proud to have such a descendant. The past should ask questions regarding what inspires and what motivates him to reframe himself from seeking vengeance. If he was a man of the past he would be a shining star to children of black or all children. In regards to his own mental and physical health, he still went and ask why the cops were beating the black child up and making life hell for them. Life as a child should undergo a pleasant and unhateful childhood to prevent their adulthood to be filled with hatred and suffering. I have a feeling this man could make great and inspiring speeches for all to hear. If he has the chance to ever come out of that hell he is currently living in, he should go and mold young minds to become better and more outstanding citizens. Other sources of information the fieldworkers should use to understand the culture are experience the life of a citizen of a free country. Such as our world today but even if the world is free, racism still occurs throughout the world we live in today. In our world today, people seem to judge others by their appearances and not by their personalities and what they might’ve experienced throughout their life. One might be seen as a homeless person to others, but he might’ve been a soldier of our country who experience the fear of war first handed. He who might’ve lost a limb and prevented him to furthermore carry out his life to the fullest. Therefore the fieldworkers should have a chance to experience life as a free citizen. There is no other better source than experiencing it first hand themselves. 


A Report from Occupied Territory, Social Science

Posted by Syed Shataj Hosain on

Ethnicity is a very big part of our culture. Society differentiate people based on their color, gender and ethnicity. African Americans suffered racial segregation since a lot time period in the United States. They did not get their equal rights as other Americans. In the article, “ A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin illustrates how society treats a certain group of people based on their racial color that includes discrimitaion and violence. In the article James Baldwin talks about how the U.S. government was violating the Black Americans even though they were innocent. Negroe people have always held the lowest jobs, the most menial jobs, which are now being destroyed by automation. They did not even get proper education from the government. In the article a 31 years old salesman named Frank Stafford was brutally beaten by the policeman when he questioned the police why they were beating a 15 years young kid in Harlem. They beat him, arrest him and take him into custody where they beat him so cruelly that he loses an eye. The man is still on the street with one eye and trying to feed his family. He was known as a cop hater because he questioned the cop why they were beating the black kid. He calls his report “a plea for the recognition of our common humanity,” where he asks for equal rights and equal treatment for the blacks. The U.S. government was unwilling to change anything because Blacks were racist. Also today, many unfixed issues remain, including discrimination and violence. This article includes cultural discrimination among black people in the United States. I believe, a fieldworker might ask why black people are not getting the same rights as others ethnicity. Also, the field worker might use the source that penetrate the insider perspective
how would White people react if they were treated the same way as the Blacks.


A Report from Occupied Territory

Posted by Thais Nunez on

In the writing by James Baldwin, he shows the ways that many whites see the black race. They have certain language to refer them to the black people that has become a very popular word to refer to those with dark skin unfortunately. Some questions that fieldworkers should ask to uncover more truths are what made these people think it was alright to define dark skinned people that word. They should figure out why they thought they were not worthy of their respect or kindness. A fieldworker should get to study the minds of the people committing these indecent acts to understand why they think so poorly of those people. However, the fieldworker should also get into the minds of the people being called these names and try to understand how they feel and how they think is proper to react. The fieldworker can use the witnesses that see those things happen as sources because they can observe how both sides react.

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