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

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?  

Comment ( 1 )

  1. Elena Bertolotti
    I really liked the question you posed if "blacks were to get higher education and saw no results in terms of success how has that impacted their lives? Its really interesting because the system itself was designed for African Americans to fail due to racism engrained in the society.

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