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Discussion #1

Posted by Elena Bertolotti on

This article takes place in the 1960s at the height of the civil rights movement. In this time the population is still enduring segregation. Segregated into different schools educating African Americans and white children differently ingraining the ideas of white supremacy at a young age. Even in the blurb of the article it starts by saying Negroes which gives us information on how African Americans were viewed at the time. The society was still telling African Americans that they were still not good enough to be with white people, that they are inferior. The police system took on this shared belief through brutally force by destroying and putting fear into African Americans. Even standing up to authority having a darker skin color your life was put at risk. This continued to fuel the already great divide between the two races. The police are supposed to protect the citizens but instead were targeting a whole race. African Americans did the only thing they could by minding their own business, keeping their heads low and trying to stay off the streets as much as possible to avoid the inevitable fate of being abused by society. The same system they are supposed to believe in to protect they were scared of.

Some questions a fieldworker might have to uncover the culture the article describes…
Who do you call when you feel endangered? If not the police why? Do you feel safe with the police? In what ways has police brutality changed from 1960 to today? Has it changed?

A fieldworker who wanted to gain the ondsider perspective would need to put himself in the enviornment where this has occured such as Harlem. Not only to go to Harlem but to speak with the residents of Harlem about how they were treated and what is their relationship with the police.


A Report from Occupied Territory

Posted by Sara Sanchez on

Cultural information included in the article are racism/racial discrimination as well as brutality and abuse of power from the law enforcement. The article first retells of an incident in which colored citizens heard and witnessed cops beating young children, to then be beaten themselves for questioning the cops. One man was beaten so badly in the eye it was beyond repair. The article then focuses on the “Harlem Six”. Questions a fieldworker can ask to uncover the culture described by the article can be “Why are the citizens of Harlem treated as they are?”, “Why is there tension between the citizens of Harlem and the law enforcement?”, “How many accounts are there from the citizens of Harlem claiming that a police officer has abused their power?” “Does this only happen in Harlem?” and “what can be done to lessen the treatment colored citizens of Harlem face from law enforcement”. Other sources of information a fieldworker might use to penetrate the insider perspective would be to acknowledge their racial identity as it could affect their research, to visit Harlem them self, to listen to accounts of these incident from the officers and to see if these same officers treat white citizens as they do people of color in and outside of Harlem.


Discussion #1 by Olivia Davila

Posted by Olivia Davila on

“A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin is about how African Americans are treated poorly and usually take on menial and degrading jobs that further this prejudice that they are “animals and uneducated”. This essay brushes on the Harlem Six. The Harlem Six were six teens who were wrongfully accused of first-degree murder. They were later sentenced to life terms, but it was eventually revealed that the confessions were coerced. Their names are Wallace Baker, Daniel Hamm, Walter Thomas, Willie Craig, Ronald Felder and Robert Rice.

One major issue of this was the fact that they were black. Before they were convicted, a few of them overturned a fruit stand. If they had been white, they wouldn’t have been as big of a deal and wouldn’t be falsely accused of first-degree murder. This article shows multiple cases of segregation and how white Americans were superior to African Americans. It also shows how White Americans almost have this inherited prejudice by saying the N word and not caring and acting as if they are better than everyone else. Same with white Americans who were police and used police brutality for no reason expect for the fact that they had the power of authority.

 A fieldworker might ask

How often are the police in the neighborhood?

Do they often abuse their power?

How do they interact with those living their?

How do they handle situations that involves other races?

A fieldworker might penetrate an insiders perspective by getting to know locals and try to understand their day to days and the events that go on in the neighborhood.


“A Report from Occupied Terriyory” by James Baldwin.

Posted by Elizabeth Cayetano on

James Baldwin’s article includes many cultural information such as the mistreatment of black people by figures of authorities which seems to be a common occurrence, the perception that black people were inferior to whites, the increase of violence happening every Sunday, amongst many other repeating rituals and behavior. A fieldworker would ask why are black people viewed as inferior, why are they being constantly beaten by authorities figures? A fieldworker would study not just the individuals but society as a whole. Why have this heinous custom been adopted by white people and why has it been stigmatized. A fieldworker would reach out to those committing hate crimes against black people and ask why do they feel the need to beat black people senselessly without a reason. A fieldworker would observe the society of Harlem and maybe even get involved assuming that they themselves aren’t part of the problem. Other sources of information that a fieldworker might use to penetrate the insider perspective would be to talk to those who are being abused by a system that was supposed to serve everyone equally. Interviewing those affected might garner an empathetic reaction from the fieldworker and an understanding of the effect of racism in society. A fieldworker would also look for ways to trace back to the root of the deep-seated racial inequality that plagues society. An important fact is that fieldworkers would be able to challenge the authorities in demanding for evidence for the crime the Harlem six were wrongly accused of.


“A Report from Occupied Territory” Response

Posted by Iqra Jan on

In the essay “A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin he writes about Harlem during the 1960’s, in particular describes the case of The Harlem Six to try and give insight of the meaning of Harlem being a “occupied territory”. Baldwin describes a young salesman named Frank Stafford who wanted to know why the police were beating up the children resulting in him getting beaten and arrested. The cultural information this article is included through the experiences that residents in Harlem have to face. Whether it is the police brutality or the larger experience of segregation, it is not unique to Harlem. Baldwin points out that what is true of Harlem is true with every city with a large African American population. In these places the police ‘are simply the hired enemies of this population’. The police violate cultural information such as rules from the fourth amendment and the right to a fair trial that are common ideas with the residents of Harlem. The laws that are placed to protect black people are meant “to be my servant and not my master… to respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.” Baldwin notes that automation has rendered many people jobless and no solution to deal with the increasing unemployment rate has been given. Their present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests/ the white supremacy.

Fieldworkers will have to offer an insiders’ perspectives along with your own to translate the cultural data into ethnographic text. A fieldworker would have to adapt to non-biasedly look at the multiple perspectives of the people of Harlem. A fieldworker will also look at other sources of information that are part of the culture such as the police department.

  • Questions a fieldworker would ask to uncover the culture of the article is:
  • Who are the people living in Harlem ? What are the socioeconomic factors for those in “occupied territories” that are putting them at an disadvantage ?
  • How do police officers act in Harlem versus other outside areas of Harlem? How would a police officer engage a black person versus a white person?
  • What is the difference between a “Bad” Negro and a “Good” Negro? What are the set requirements that makes one a “Bad” Negro? How are the Bad and good Negro treated differently?


Steps Towards Righteousness for the Minority

Posted by Adrian Aguilar on

“A report from unoccupied territory”, by James Baldwin, describes the discrimination and violence that was erupting in the 1960’s towards Negroes. The narrative records multiple incidents between police officers and the Black citizens in Harlem. Baldwin says, “the police are simply the hired enemy of this population”. The actions police had taken were unjust and broke the rights of these citizens. Some rules/beliefs broken by the police were the rights to a fair trial, and the 4th amendment which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires any search warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

As a fieldworker we question different society’s to solve issues within them. During the 1960’s, if a fieldworker were to read Baldwin’s magazine description they might question, what is the driving force behind such discrimination? Why are men and women of color not treated the same as white’s? What can be done to support the minority? As a fieldworker it is key to learn how to adapt in society’s whether it is an outsider stance or insider stance. To require more sources of information as a emic – insider of perspective- a fieldworker would deploy themselves into where the damage Harlem. Examining and listening to the people of Harlem would lead them to resolve issues. All they need to penetrate this perspective is a cause such as the Harlem six.


“A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin- Discussion Post #1

Posted by Ashley Borja on

James Baldwin’s essay “A report from unoccupied territory” discusses violence and police brutality in Harlem during the 1960s. The essay includes multiple narratives of the power dynamic between police officers and the public as well as a critique of the education taught to black and brown people nationwide. The narratives mentioned in the essay shared common beliefs and experiences. A common belief shared by Harlem residents was that the “No knock, stop and frisk” laws– that violated their fourth amendment — was placed with intention to suppress black bodies. Another shared belief that Baldwin mentions in his essay is that Harlem believes that the “Harlem Six” is not guilty of the crime they have been convicted of. Baldwin uses words like “ghetto” and “abolitionist” to demonstrate his identity as an insider. 

If a fieldworker was looking at Harlem, they would ask numerous questions. What is the socioeconomic dynamic of the community in Harlem? How are convicts treated based on their race? Inequalities in prison sentences? How has the policing of the Harlem community impacted its residents? What laws are most used in Harlem in comparison to other neighborhoods? A fieldworker looking to uncover the culture of Harlem would have to think about their own identity and acknowledge any cultural differences and investigate any similarities. To investigate the culture and develop an understanding, a fieldworker must also look at the dynamic in the city. How policed are white neighborhood compared to black neighborhoods? And is the quality of education different based on what the race of the student body is? As well as insider narratives, a fieldworker must use outsiders and the police officers to penetrate the insider’s perspective. Outsiders may include lobbyists and any higher-ups that have an influence on the community.


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

Posted by Milton Isaiah Rivera on

In Baldwin’s essay readers are introduced to a variety of cultural information, such as when the older man (Fecundo Acion) called a policeman ‘sir’ in order to show him respect. In this readers see that there is a certain respect for policemen, and yet they betrayed that respect by beating him for asking questions. Another piece of cultural information we see is the visibility of cops in the community which Baldwin says makes Harlem more of occupied territory than anything else. Therefore exposing the reader to the fact that there is high tension in the community already with all these men carrying guns, and abusing their powers as though they were gods. Some questions fieldworkers may ask to further uncover the culture the article describes include but are not limited to: “Why aren’t the cops put under surveillance like people of color are?”, “how many times has this happened before?”, “will this happen again?”, “is the tension between whites and people of color still high? And will it ever get better?” and there are so many more questions. Some information a fieldworker may need to penetrate the insider perspective is to ask other informants about their experience in Harlem, whether it is good or bad. They should also collect information on all fronts; whites, people of color, and cops to see how their experiences differ. Most importantly they should remain nonbias when they collect this information, and although one group may be more in the right than the other at the end of the day fieldworkers are only here to collect the history of human experience. Finally, to answer one of the questions I asked (will this happen again?) as though I were a fieldworker myself, when reading Baldwin’s report I thought the story took place recently until I read the date so that question pretty much answers itself.


“A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin

Posted by Asadullah Bin Amir on

In the essay  “A Report from Occupied Territory” by James Baldwin, the author describes the events that take place within Harlem to give context to the intensity of the discrimination that takes place within this territory. The author began by providing details about how African Americans were brutally treated by the law enforcement by giving details of an average male working to begin the essay, then proceeds to show how a simple question from his mouth can lead to him having to watch over his shoulder for the rest of his life. A fieldworker would have to question quite a bit in order to uncover the culture that was described in this article, one of those questions being the following. Are there other instances of similar injustice that took place that weren’t so publicized? Why specifically were those six individuals targeted? Questions such as these would help an individual further uncover the truth about the culture at this time. In order to penetrate the insider perspective, an individual would have to visit these locations through many different perspectives to see the daily activities of these people, this would help the individual further understand the story being portrayed in this essay. James Baldwin does a great job providing one perspective but it is crucial to read other perspectives on this matter. Mr. Baldwin even provides one within this essay, one fieldworker would take the time to understand this article as well. 


A Report from Occupied Territory, A Feild Worker’s Response

Posted by bethanie corona (she/her) on

James Baldwin’s essay highlights the injustices and discrimination in the late ’60s that are still very much present in today’s environment in 2020. Police brutality has not magically been erased, in fact reading this essay has given me a deeper understanding as to why people have certain attitudes toward the police. Baldwin compares the common up-town New York block as an “occupied territory” in order to compare racist policing to America’s trend of occupying foreign land in the name of colonization and imperialism. The fear and silencing of people of color fuel these unjust power structures of white America. Baldwin recognizes that in order for people to comprehend change, people need to know what in the system has to change; so he uses descriptive language to explain the Negro experience: “the government which can force me to pay my taxes and force me to fight in its defense anywhere in the world does not have the authority to say that it cannot protect my right to vote or my right to earn a living or my right to live anywhere I choose.” Baldwin presents two stories, one about the Harlem Six and another about another senseless common arrest of innocent citizens of color near a fruit stand in Harlem. These two stories are interchangeably the broken record of stories that define melanin as “criminal.” Baldwin incentivizes his audience to consider future generations and their treatment in society. His solution for a stable and safe environment for communities of color all over the states to put pressure on legislators and the government to make it a priority to protect everyone equally. He writes, “The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.” I found this statement very powerful and blunt. As a fieldworker, Baldwin uses similar strategies that I would consider using in order to penetrate the insider perspective through interviews of police, politicians, and citizens.

My questions as a fieldworker to further uncover the culture the article describes would be:

  1. How is the treatment of blacks in society addressed in education and the school environment?
  2. What’s the difference between a “good” nigger and a “bad” one in the eyes of the law? Is there even a difference? What about in the eyes of a black American?
  3. What are the socioeconomic factors at the workplace elevating black families or failing them?
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