Sunday, September 22, 2013

Anything But Amazing...(Exploring Jonathan Kozol's "Amazing Grace")

Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol depicts the lives of those who lived in the Mott Haven area(a neighborhood located in the Bronx) in the 1990's.  Dubbed as being one of the "largest racially segregated concentrations of poor people in our nation", Mott Haven plays host to an epidemic of crime, disease, and addiction.

"What is it like for children to grow up here?"  Kozol presents his first major argument, by implying that the disastrous conditions of the city affect the lives of the innocent children who live there.  To give his argument validity, Kozol provides us with a personal story.  A personal story, that focused on the life of seven-year-old Cliffe and how the city had influenced certain areas of his life.  Cliffe was to take Kozol on a tour of the city, and to Kozol's surprise Cliffe appeared to be cheerful despite "the miseries and poisons that the world pumped into his life."

St. Ann's Church where Kozol met Cliffe
The walk that both Kozol and Cliffe went on was both heart-breaking and shocking, to say the least. When they walk past a tree that has teddy bears hanging from it, Cliffe who avoids answering directly what those stuffed animals represent, says "I saw a boy shot in the head right over there."  Immediately after, he asks Kozol if he would like a cookie.  This indicates that these children are so accustomed to these bad things that they just dismiss them and learn to deal with them.  The fact these children have to deal with these issues, puts into perspective that you really don't know how bad someones family conditions may be.  Children are very important and I believe Kozol is trying to say that the government needs to help more before these innocent kids find themselves in the same awful predicaments as their adult counter parts.  However, one thing that I found refreshing was Cliffe's sense of religiousness.  Even though, he's living in such hard times, he finds a way to be happy and do the right thing according to the word of God.

In the 90's this was the major hospital
that never received accreditation. 
Another argument that Kozol presents in Amazing Grace, is the fact that these people are being overlooked when it comes to health care.  I found this part of the text extremely heart-breaking especially when he included the story about Alice Washington, a woman living with AIDS.  I found it disgusting when she talked about going to the hospital and sometimes waiting days to get admitted. When she did finally get admitted she had to prepare her own bed and the excuse she got was "Ms.Washington, you've been here before, you know we are understaffed." Like really?  Another thing I found disturbing, is when this woman had cancer and she was denied SSI because she wasn't "sick enough."  Again, I say REALLY? Like what the hell is this government doing to help these people? You would think that since a neighborhood that is so high on the sickness rate, people would be more compelled to help.  But, I guess not!

Before I conclude I just wanted to point out a quote that I found interesting made by Washington's son. "I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher could call evil.  Somebody has power.  Pretending that they don't so they don't need to use it to help people-that is my idea of evil."  This brought me back to the articles we read by Johnson and Delpit where they argue that sometimes those who have power don't want to admit that they do because it makes them uncomfortable.

However, I believe those who have power, need to use it to help these people who are dealing with these diseases because WHEN IT COMES TO BEING SICK:

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  1. Alex,
    Great blog!! I think you did an amazing job with picture placement and colors. Very awesome to look at makes me want to read all your posts. Love that you also post videos.

    See you in class,

  2. Hi Alex,
    I love that in your blog you put up pictures that showed us the same journey that Kozol and Cliffie took. It really brought dimension to your post. I can't even imagine waiting to be seen at a hospital for days-that kind of mistreatment has to cease!
    P.S. I love your "about me" too. Very fun and sassy! I hope I get to see you jammin' in your ride someday, sound like a stylin' automobile! -Jocelyn B.