What I didn’t know is that regardless of the good and the bad, that the life I lived was sheltered to the point where I couldn’t fathom the idea that all people had not lived a life similar to ours. Sure, I understand that some were more fortunate and some were less fortunate, but to which extent? Within my circle of influence, our friends and family, there was a certain level at which we enjoyed our lives in a comfortable sense. We’d occasionally see a homeless person on the subway or in the city, but I never knew that there was a whole class of people in between. I’ve always heard of poverty and didn’t know much more about it except for the fact that people existed that were less fortunate, those who lived in this supposed poverty. Jonathan Kozol’s book “Amazing Grace” depicts the issues that face families who are living in a world of poverty, homelessness and in a world where less fortunate is an understatement.
Kozol writes about his experience in the South Bronx where he comes across some of the most disturbing facts about our fellow human beings. He speaks of families who live in an undernourished, impoverished society where a great majority of the inhabitants have been faced with disease. He visited a building in which one particular family has contracted the HIV virus. A woman contracted AIDS from her husband who she thought was faithful. Her daughter later contracted the deadly virus when she was raped by the father. In fact, in his conversation with a nurse who takes care of Alice Washington, a woman that Kozol interviews, in this building there are “Including the children, maybe 27 people” (Kozol p.
13, in Amazing Grace) She continues to say “There’s lots of other people have it but don’t know. ” People are so under-educated and under-privileged in the society where they live, that they are afraid to even find out if they have contracted the disease. This brings us to another problem that the families here are faced with, deprivation of help from the government. Although Jonathan Kozol implies that there may be an effort on the part of the government and other public entities to overlook issues faced by these unfortunate people, but my personal belief is that regardless of the inability to gain public aid, which they should receive as entitled to it, but rather, they should get up and go work. It is very true that although some families are born into poverty, other have fallen into this classification due to various circumstances they endured during the course of life’s twists and turns. According to a conservative remark by Thomas J.
Surgrue as noted in “American Families” by Stephanie Coontz, “the wages of two underemployed workers barely pull families above the poverty line” (Surgrue, p. 245 Coontz). With this in mind, it makes us wonder if there is any hope to rely on for those who live in this area, whether it’s two underemployed parents or just a single mother or father. There is barely a difference between those who are suffering because they are unemployed and so it seems that’s it even worse for those who are working two dead end jobs and still not breaching the poverty line.
Jonathan Kozol speaks of a local high school in the South Bronx when he says that “Morris High School is, after all, one of the most beleaguered, segregated, and decrepit secondary schools in United states”(Kozol). I understand the argument that they are uneducated and do not have a great ability to apply for numerous jobs, but what I don’t understand is if they even find a minimum wage job, they are better off that where they are currently. In addition, there are numerous programs which allow people to get a GED at no charge .