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Critical Reading Assignment #3
Chapter 5: Race and the Politics of Place
Gregory, Steven (1999) Chapter 5: Race and the Politics of Place, in Black Corona, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 109-138.
The researchers conducted this study in order to challenge the depictions of the black urban experience in the media, academics, and public policy debates, which the author does frequently throughout the study. In this portion of the study, Gregory focuses on the struggles that black Lefrak City residents to disrupt the lingering stereotypes alluding to race, crime, and space in everyday politics. To conduct this research, Steven Gregory, an anthropologist, uses ethnography methods including open-ended interviews, participant observation in neighborhoods and political meetings, and archival research to collect the data used in this study. He interviews various residents and political members from this area and attends a meeting involving the Neighborhood Stabilization Committee and Community Board 4. The study takes place in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, New York, specifically in the Lefrak City are home to many African Americans residents as well as people from many other backgrounds.
In this study, Gregory points out the struggles that Black Lefrak City residents had in disrupting the lingering stereotypes about, race, crime, and space in everyday politics. He explains how this area of Corona was viewed as a threat to the quality of life in the surrounding areas, which provides a link to urban decline and crime to black welfare dependency (Gregory 111: 1999). He focuses on struggles in the representation of identity and the meaning of place with the distribution of political power. As evidence, Gregory interviews and observes Edna Baskin, an African American woman eager to get involved and create a political organization to counteract these stereotypes and give black citizens from this area representation in the local politics. She establishes the organization called the Concerned Community Adults, where she would help inform residents of neighborhood issues. She faced many struggles in doing this, however, and was said to be “rubbing against the grain” (Gregory 118: 1999) while trying to promote her organization and get involved with the Community Board, made up of mostly white participants. Gregory talks about other problems this organizations faced, and the successes it achieved later on.
This research has strengths in its overall comprehensiveness of the issues that Gregory is discussing. The topic he tries to tackle is very complex, and he does a good job at trying to try to explain the overall issues of the research. However, Gregory could organize his work in a fashion that is easier to comprehend that helps understand the overall concepts and issues he is focusing on in the research. He also only discusses in depth one example of the struggles that one area of this community faces. I believe that it would be interesting to instead compare the many different struggles that different areas of the community have and relate them to one another. It would be interesting to see the similarities and the differences between the different areas of this community.