Sunday, February 2, 2014

Be thankful for what you have...

After reading Amazing Grace by Johnathon Kozol, I was in complete shock. I love reading interesting books, especially ones that make me want to read the whole thing through. This one like one of those books, except it was a real life situation which made it all the more likable. I'm not saying that I enjoyed what happened in the story, but it made me realize how lucky I am and that I shouldn't take things for granted; and needless to say - Kozol is a great author.

Kozol talks about the life in Mott Haven, New York in 1995. I was born in 1995, making this piece around 18 years old, and it's amazing how terrible the living situations were. I was astonished. People always talk about New York in such a positive manner, such as Times Square and New York City, yet I have never heard about the bad parts of this state. That is until I read Amazing Grace. Ninety-five percent of the people living here are the "poorest of poor" (3). Kozol even used the word "destitute" to describe them which goes beyond the word poor. 

It amazed me when Kozol mentioned that only seven out of eight hundred students did not qualify for free lunch (five of them had reduced lunch). I know that when we were talking about internships for class, we had to find a place that had over 50% of the students qualify for reduced lunch and I thought that was hard. Not one school in Johnston, Rhode Island met that qualification. Less than 1% (0.875%) of the children in Mott Haven, NY didn't qualify for free/reduced lunch. It's amazing how different two area's could be that aren't even that far apart.

Kozol then goes on to talk about the shootings in this area. Within three years, 1991-1993, a total of 106 people were murdered (one of the victims had his head cut off in a bathtub) (5). This stuff should only be allowed in horror movies! That's absolutely sickening. I was disgusted by these statistics and it didn't seem real to me. People living in Mott Haven, New York hear of people dying all of the time which seems surreal to me because you almost never hear of this in Johnston, Rhode Island (where I live).

The last thing I would like to comment upon from reading Amazing Grace would have to be Cliffie. This seven year old boy takes Kozol around to show him different areas. It amazed me how much he knew about and how mature he was for such a young boy. He knew directions so well, he seemed smarter than I am now, he was extremely polite and he even knew what needles were. He knew that people used them, why they used them and where they got them. At the age of seven, I was clueless on many topics; especially the use of needles. To be completely honest, I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what sex was at that age. He knew that he lived in a bad area and no one was healthy. People were drug addicts and had sex for money. It's almost as if they gave up on hope. Cliffie even mentions "the day is coming when the world will be destroyed" (10).

In conclusion, I believe that Kozol wrote a really powerful piece. It made me feel like I was right there on the side of him as he was walking through the streets with Cliffie, or when he was boarding the train to see Mrs. Washington. I think the best stories are ones that make you feel like you're actually there, experiencing what they're experiencing. I really hope that Mrs. Washington was able to find treatment. And I also hope that Mott Haven, NY is doing better than it was in 1995. 

I found this picture on google and I thought it was interesting. From Rhode Island to New York, it is roughly 250 miles away. In Rhode Island, the most common race, or majority,  is Caucasian (or white) and New York has the white race as the minority. It's remarkable how two places that are not even that far away from each other have such opposite statistics.  

ALSO: I think everyone should check this out. It has terrible music, but its a youtube video of Mott Haven New York and you could see all the different area's in there. It kind of shows you what Kozol was walking through and it shows you where the people have to live everyday. It's so much different from where we live.


  1. Heyyy Brandy! I really enjoyed reading about your thoughts on the Amazing Grace piece. I think you expressed the feelings you had while reading it very well and I agree that the author made it easy for us to visualize what he was talking about.

  2. Hi Brandy! I loved how you brought in the statistics about the school free/reduced lunch. I was so shocked to find out that all of the Providence Public Schools had at least 50% of students qualifying and I can't imagine what it's like with 99% of the students living below poverty. Having that statistic made it easy to realize how bad the area they live in is. You did a great job describing Cliffie as well. He seems so mature and knowledgeable for his young age.

  3. Yes! I couldn't agree more with what you posted. I'm the same way when it comes to reading articles and books! This was an awesome piece and after reading this I couldn't believe that people actuallly lived/live like that. I realized how grateful and lucky we really are to not have to live in fear. I also agree with Shannon and you on how you brought in the statistics from the Providence Public Schools. Although Providence isn't to the extreme of New York some places where families live in Providence struggle and go through the same thing. I really liked your overall post and I absolutely agree.

  4. Wow!! Brady what a good way of expressing your thoughts on his piece! I agree with everything you said. Its crazy to believe that when we were just born that all these people were endanger! When I read this piece I thought about horror movies. I had a picture in my head that reminded me of like a "Saw" movie! Good job with your post! :)