James Baldwin Response by Nica

            James Baldwin Response by Nica Genestin

James Baldwin describes Harlem in the 1960’s as an “occupied territory.” He depicts Harlem as a neighborhood riddled with discrimination and racism. The police were running amok, they were not following protocol and would infiltrate people’s homes without a search warrant.

Baldwin focuses on one incident in particular and goes to describe the story of the “Harlem Six”, a group of six minority men that were wrongly accused of murder. The treatment that these men received was abysmal.  The police officers were intemperate and they’d beat on these men for hours, they even permanently injured one of the man’s eyes and the eye could not be salvaged. The young men did not have  the means to hire a lawyer and they were appointed a lawyer by the court. Baldwin writes, “The boys made it clear that they had no confidence in their court-appointed counsel, and even though four leading civil rights lawyers had asked to be allowed to handle the case. The boys were convicted of first-degree murder, and are now ending their childhood and may end their lives in jail.” This quote fills me with indignation, as a fieldworker I’d ask,  “how could these officials completely disregard their concerns about their appointed lawyers?”, “How could this unfair treatment occur without  the government interfering to protect the rights of these people?” “How could we improve the relationship between officers and minorities?” Baldwin uses insiders perspective by interviewing informants, and he  analyzed the statements the informants made and created his own response.  

As a fieldworker, I’d try and get the perspective of the police officers and try to figure out what provoked them to act the way they did. I found this article to be very insightful and it is very concerning that to this day we are still dealing with police brutality and the relationship between minorities and police officers remains a troubled one. In that regard, not much has changed since the 1960’s.

2 thoughts on “James Baldwin Response by Nica

  • It’s really interesting and important how you explain that this incident and injustice act that police did to these six young black teens still occurs now. There has been a large amount of police brutality that it was vital that you’ve added that “not much had changed since the 1960” in regards to the treatment police have had to many black men or kids. It’s important how this has a parallel to the police brutality now.

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