A Report from Occupied Territory by James Baldwin

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.

Comments ( 4 )

  1. Marieme Jiddou
    I really like your question "How can you survive in a system that is working to keep you down?" I think this question would give a lot of insight into how hard African Americans work on a daily basis to survive and prosper in a society that doesn't want them to.
  2. Elizabeth Cayetano
    I like how you mentioned the fact that the law was against a large group of people just because of their skin color and the question of how can they survive a system that, it seems, was meant to destroy them in the most vile way. Even the authorities disregarded this so called laws just to venture off to mistreat African Americans.
  3. Sara Sanchez
    Like Marieme, I like how one of your questions that a fieldworker could ask were, "How can you survive in a system that is working to keep you down?" because it acknowledges and supports the colored citizens of Harlem and is a hopeful question that enforces that their mistreatment by law enforcement shouldn't be one they endure.
  4. Syed Shataj Hosain
    I really liked how you said that in todays world we also see the brutual experience that African American go thorough. I also liked how you asked, "Do you feel the police are against you?" because I feel like at that time of period police and the government were not enough concerned about the African Americans and about their human rights.

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