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James Baldwin by Ramandeep Kaur

In his article “A Report from Occupied Territory”, James Baldwin writes about the treatment of the African-American community in his neighborhood Harlem during the 1960s. He begins the article by painting a scene of a common incident of police brutality that African-American men have become a victim of and explains how during the time, Harlem was going through a time of heavy occupation by racist white police officers. He goes into great detail about how these men were abused and treated like animals. Baldwin writes that this was done to keep African-Americans “in their place and to protect white business interest”. He shows that African-Americans were considered less than white people and did not deserve the same protection under the same laws they all should be following.

To further uncover the cultural tensions of the neighborhood, fieldworkers should ask if there are other areas in New York City where similar mistreatments occur , and compare the statistics and demographics. They should also ask how the people of Harlem feel seeing these events happening and what it does to the community as a whole. In addition to that, fieldworkers may also ask what white people think of the issue when they witness or hear about it; are they sympathetic or happy regarding this issue? In order to gain an insiders perspective, Fieldworkers should ask mothers and wives of the African-American men that have been a victim of police brutality to understand their thoughts and feelings. They should also ask men who have experienced police brutality to gain their understanding of the issue. They can also ask those who have not been a victim and gather how they live their life trying to avoid such incidents.

2 thoughts on “James Baldwin by Ramandeep Kaur

  • I love the questions that you’d ask as a fieldworker, I think that these questions would give the perspective of everyone, even those who may not be directly affected by the police brutality. It would be interesting to hear what the white people thought of this at the time.

  • I like the idea of asking how others act to not get into a situation like the Harlem six. I think that would be good insight into answering the question of what can we do as social scientist to solve this problem. So people don’t have to change the way they live to feel protected form those in authority.

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