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

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. 

Comments ( 2 )

  1. JingWen Lei
    I also agree with you, if the little boy is white, I believe the result will be very different. Many people believe that the police have different attitudes towards different races, which is no doubt.
  2. Christiane C. Campbell
    I find your statement, "I think this shows an insight into police...rituals" intriguing because it reminds me of the fact that police brutality is arguably just as bad as it were back in the '60s-- as if some of today's white officers inherited the behaviors of numerous past white officers, like how a ritual can be inherited by one generation from another.

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