Thursday, April 10, 2014

Amazing Grace - Gut Reactions

So this was, in my opinion, the easiest article to read because of the speed at which I read. I found myself flying through this article to see what happened with Cliffie and Jonathan in this piece. It rendered me horrified and a bit confused, but not because I didn't understand anything, but rather because I don't understand who would actually permit that kind of cruelty that these people had to endure.

Throughout the reading, there were deplorable conditions in New York City where death, depression, and filth were too rampant. I think what really effected me was the waste incinerator that was placed in this neighborhood. I couldn't even imagine how I would feel if this sort of facility was in my neighborhood. And then I realized that there would be no way of this being in my neighborhood, because I don't live in such a situation as bad as this. It is almost as though no one even cares about the lives of poor. The things that Kozol was listing was just horrorfying.

To think that humans could be treated this badly in a post-civil rights era simply astounds me. At my job, I make about $5000 a year, working about 20hr a week for about 6 months. When I read that the median income of this area of the South Bronx is $7600 per year, I was really blown away and actually surprised that people could live on that little money in a year. I know how much I struggle with the amount of money that I make - and my partner makes slightly more than I do; our combined incomes keep us alive, though not thriving.

In this piece, Jonathan Kozol shows the audience only a glimpse of the social structures that are in play to keep the poor oppressed. Without too many words, we see the dilapitation of the housing, the lack of sanitation, the lack of true health care, and other rampant problems like crowding and illegal dumping. He paints a picture about how the poor are essentially forgotten about and left to rot. His story covers several cuts in welfare, destruction of property, violation of social norms, and unconventional, conventionalized deaths. This is utterly shocking and disturbing to read because the voices of these people have been nearly invisible and hardly ever heard - after all, they couldn't even be heard while they were protesting the installment of a waste incenerator which disposes of human waste products like needles, fat, and fetuses. I simply can't get over why anyone would let this happen to any community, let alone continue it.

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