Monday, September 21, 2009

Talking Point 1: Amazing Grace

The reading Amazing Grace by Jonathon Kozol struck me the hardest. I found it to be the most interesting reading yet. I would like to share some of the quotes that caught my eye.

1. "'I saw a boy shot in the head right over there,' he says a moment later, in a voice that does not sound particularly sad, then looks up at me and asks politely, 'Would you like a chocolate chip cookie?'"

I think this is the most important quote in the reading. The way the little boy goes from talking about someone getting shot to talking about chocolate chip cookies really gives a picture of the society he is living. He has grown up in a neighborhood where getting shot happens often. In our society, if a person saw another person get shot, they would react differently. They would probably be extremely upset and not want to talk about it. The way the little boy brings it into the conversation out of nowhere demonstrates that he knows what goes on in the real world and it almost seems as though he is not afraid.

2. "These are almost the only things she says that have an edge of indignation; even here, it is more sadness than real indignation. She seems resigned ot things the way they are. 'That's how it is. What can I say?' she often asks."

The entire time the author is speaking with the mother of the little boy, the mother does not have an angry tone. She understands the impact that her standard of living has on her son. She feels guilty because she loves him very much. The way she speaks about it also gave me the notion that she feels as though thats just the way things are and nothing can be done to make it better. She has become accustomed to the life she lives and feels stuck. I feel as though most people in her situation have the same way of thinking.

3. "'Evil exists,' he says, not flinching at the word. '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 stresses the fact that the people that have the power don't want to accept it. It is said that the people who have the most power are white, heterosexual, males. I don't believe that people don't accept that they have power. I think that people of the white culture are brought up to worry about themselves. Children are never brought up to worry about others that have different skin color or a different sexual orientation. Therefore, it is not that people don't want to use their power, they just don't know how.

I enjoyed reading Amazing Grace by Jonathon Kozol. His writing was not only informative, but picturesque. He informed us on the struggles of people through telling actual experiences. I found this to be very helpful. It made me feel like I knew the people he was speaking with. I felt emotions for them. I felt sorry that they had to live life in such a poor neighborhood and I felt angry that good people must suffer in such a way. Reading this made me realize that normal people living decent lives don't ever think about how much worse off they could be. For example, my parents often complain about the neighborhood we live in. In fact, they sold my house last week. My neighborhood is not terrible, it has just become worse over the sixteen years we have lived here. I agree with them that I would like to move to a higher class neighborhood. However, after reading this I am happy to have grown up in my neighborhood. The people that live in the slums of New York would probably give anything to live where I do. It is crazy how people tend to take things for granted.

I found this reading to be much easier than the past readings we have done of Johnson and Delpit. It also relates to both of these texts. There are ideas in Amazing Grace behind the stories that are being told of peoples lives. These ideas are the basic ideas of Johnson's Privilege, Power, and Difference. Such ideas are the fact that people are not willing to accept their power because they don't want to have to deal with others. Another example is that the colored people that live in the slums of New York city seem to accept that they are not as worthy as people of the higher class New York. When trying to relate this text to Delpit's Silent Dialogue, I had more trouble. I feel as though it partly worked against what Delpit was saying because the people in the reading were not afraid to share their experiences or their culture with Kozol. On the other hand, the reading shows the differences in the way people understand one another, or the miscommunication between cultures. For example, the little boy tells Kozol that he once saw a person get shot as though it was a normal thing. This would not be considered the norm in other societies. Overall I think the text was extremely helpful in learning about other places that people live and the way they live. It made me want to reach out and use my "power" to help these people find a way out.


  1. I agree with your outlook on this article. It defiantly makes us realize how lucky we are and not to take the little things for granted. good points! :)

  2. I like how you work to connect to Delpit and Johnson. Kozol does write in an emotional way -- but I think that he wants more than our pity or sadness. Why does he tell us the stories of Mott Haven? DId our class discussion help you think about this in different ways?