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Word Count: 1662
Jonathan Kozol\'s Amazing Grace is a book about the trials
and tribulations of everyday life for a
group of children who live in the poorest congressional
district of the United States, the South Bronx. Their lives
may seem extraordinary to us, but to them, they are just as
normal as everyone else. What is normal? For the children
of the South Bronx, living with the pollution, the sickness, the
drugs, and the violence is the only way of life many of them
have ever known.
In this book, the children speak openly and honestly about
feeling \'abandoned\', \'hidden\' or \'forgotten\' by our nation, one
that is blind to their problems. Studying the people
themselves would only get us so far in understanding what
their community is really like and why they feel this way.
Jonathan Kozol really got to know the people individually.
We can take his knowledge and stories to try for a better
understanding of the environment in which they live. By
doing this, we can explore the many reasons why the people
have problems, what some levels of intervention could be,
and possibly find some
solutions to making the South Bronx a healthier and safer
place for these children and others to live.
The environment in which we study these people can only
be defined by first taking a look at possible reasons why the
people have problems. Some of the problems discussed in
Amazing Grace have festered throughout the United States
for some time now. The high numbers of drug users in the
community, the high amounts of gang-related violence, and
the numerous cases of people who have contracted the
AIDS virus are just some of the problems that have arisen in
this ghetto. There are many differences between this
community and others in the United States, one of which is
that the government has grouped these people all together
and made a ghetto of the lowest income families. This has
ostracized them from the rest of the nation. It has given
them many abandonment issues to deal with, while also
telling them they are not worthy of living among the wealthier
Environmental factors are involved in the problems arising in
the South Bronx. Pollution, for
example, could be the biggest source of the high number of
children in the community who have asthma.
Asthma is a condition in which one has trouble breathing.
Without clean air, breathing for an asthmatic is almost
impossible. A waste burner in the middle of the South
Bronx causes a lot of pollution and makes the air the people
breath, below safe levels of cleanliness. Another
environmental factor that affects the resident\'s healths has to
do with how most of the buildings in these neighborhoods
are run down and infested with rats. Many of the buildings
have no working elevators. This causes people to have to
walk several flights of stairs each time they want to leave
their apartments. This is very time consuming and tiresome.
Then, when they find that there is so much violence and
drugs in the street, that it is not safe to be out there anyway,
they usually end up staying in their apartments for most of
their free time.
The cultural differences between these people and others of
higher income communities is also a
reason why they may have problems. Racism is very
obvious to the people of the South Bronx, especially
when they go outside of their district. If a woman from this
area goes to a hospital outside of her
district, a hospital that is more than likely wealthier and
cleaner, she is usually turned away and told to go to a
hospital in her own district. Others, who are admitted into
these hospitals, are put on a special floor, mainly for the
lower income or Medicaid patients. (Amazing Grace, p.
Another way the government discriminates against them is
how they are housed. Most of the
residents are living in government housing where the
government pays their rent. When the government
helped the people to get off the streets and out of homeless
shelters and then put them into low cost
housing, they put all of the residents in the same area. This
created their ghetto and kept them
segregated from the rest of the world.
Level of Intervention
If we look at these people through an exosystem, or "a
setting in which a person does not participate but in which
significant decisions are made affecting the person or others
who interact directly with the person," we would ask the
questions "are decisions made with the interests of the
person and the family in mind?" (Social
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The Bronx, South Bronx, Amazing Grace, Poverty
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