Amazing Grace By Jonathan Kozol Essay

1039 words - 4 pages

Jonathan Kozol's book, Amazing Grace, analyzes the lives of the people living in the dilapidated district of South Bronx, New York. Kozol spends time touring the streets with children, talking to parents, and discussing the appalling living conditions and safety concerns that plague the residents in the inner cities of New York. In great detail, he describes the harsh lifestyles that the poverty stricken families are forced into; day in and day out. Disease, hunger, crime, and drugs are of the few everyday problems that the people in Kozol's book face; however, many of these people continue to maintain a very religious and positive outlook on life. Jonathan Kozol's investigation on the lifestyle of these people, shows the side to poverty that most of the privileged class in America does not get to see. Kozol wishes to persuade the readers to sympathize with his book and consider the condition in which these people live. The inequality issues mentioned are major factors in affecting the main concerns of Kozol: educational problems, healthcare obstacles, and the everyday struggles of a South Bronx child.

The small river that divides the Washington Heights and Harlem from the South Bronx area, makes up "one of the largest racially segregated concentrations of poor people in our nation" (Kozol 3). This segregation increases the inequality problems by overpopulating the inner-cities that do not offer as many employment opportunities. As a result of the inequalities in this district, the children are not allowed as many opportunities as other fortunate individuals may receive growing up in a separate society. Kozol seems to think that the odds of these South Bronx children obtaining wealth and moving out of the area are slim to none.

In the beginning of Kozol's book, he tours the Mott Haven district in South Bronx with a young child from the area, Cliffie. The child tells him of the terrible conditions of the area nonchalantly and is most kind towards Kozol. When Kozol discovers Cliffie's heroes are Michael Jackson and Oprah he inquires, "Have you read about George Washington?" Cliffie answers, "I don't even know the man" (Kozol 8). This quote suggests the lack of legitimate education that these children are receiving in school. The teachers in the district are not always certified and the classroom environment is less than desirable. Kozol visited an area where, "only 15 teachers in a faculty of 54 were certified." (Kozol 155). The relation between most of the inner-city kids and their teachers results in a vicious cycle. The kids can be unruly and disruptive, therefore the teacher, often times may feel hesitant to put forward effort into his/her teaching. Due to the lack of teaching and discipline, the students may continue to be ignorant and incompliant with authority. With the continuation of this process and the lack of an authoritative figure at home or at school, some children may grow up and become involved in crime...

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