Book Review: Amazing Grace Throughout the United States

Pages: 4 (1335 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching  ·  Buy for $19.77

Amazing Grace

Throughout the United States, poverty and racial segregation remain daily problems among those unfortunately enough to be afflicted by both a lack of funding and the "wrong" skin color. This, necessarily, leads to a lack of adequate education and, ultimately, the cycle of poverty is perpetuated by a lack of good job opportunities. At the same time, the government at both the state and federal level appear focused only on benefiting the rich and powerful to ensure their reelection to power. Tax cuts, for example, benefit those with high incomes, but disadvantage those living in poverty, since the public services and goods they rely on as vital to their lives are drastically reduced because of a lack of public funding. These are just some of the issues Jonathan Kozol raises in his book Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation. The points he makes about the plight of children in the South Bronx, for example, are designed, and rightly so, to move the reader emotionally, and hopefully towards taking action. The information in the book is also highly applicable in the counseling and education fields.

Kozol structures his comments around interviews with mainly the inhabitants of the Souh Bronx area. By interviewing this population, Kozol is able to obtain first-hand accounts of the many social, economic, and health problems in the area. Particularly, children and their plight are the focus of his writing. Many children do no only suffer, but also die as a result of the poor safety services provided to the area. The most horrifying examples of these are the young boy who fell to his death into an elevator shaft when he leaned against poorly maintained doors, another whose bedroom ceiling collapsed into the room, and a third who burned to death in his home. These accounts, all provided by local residents, provide a horrifying first-hand view of the plight suffered by most of the Bronx residents. The government and others in power appear unwilling to change this situation. Instead, their focus is on "powering the palace" and soothing their conscience by claiming that cruelty is a requirement of the energy expended to acquire the luxury experienced by New York's affluent population.

In addition to poor housing conditions and extreme poverty, the Bronx residents also suffer from health hazards such as rats, AIDS, and poorly equipped hospitals. Other problems, which cling to the area like a disease of their own, include poor education in overcrowded schools and extreme segregation, fueled by rampant racism. Such racism is perpetuated by media systems such as newspaper and radio reporting, in which journalists and broadcasters barely make an attempt to conceal their contempt for the Bronx residents. In once case Kozol reports that one even compared these residents to maggots. The area is therefore a fertile field for counseling efforts.

Counselors would do well to start by addressing the many social problems experienced in the Bronx, among which is the drug addiction problem among young people and even children. Kozol mentions that tax cuts would mean fewer rehabilitation centers, for which the waiting lists already extend as much as six months. Counselors can help speed up the process of healing by working with those in rehabilitation as well as those waiting to enter. Since drug addiction is both a physical and psychological problem, counselors can work with those on the waiting list and help to determine if any of these persons can be helped outside the walls of the clinic. The waiting process can also be sped up by determining the severity of each addiction case and prioritizing the more severe ones.

One example of Kozol's work can help in his regard is by providing an indication of how many addiction cases there are in each area of the Bronx. This can then help counselors focus their attention on the areas that are most severely afflicted. It can also be useful for counseling managers to determine where to focus the attention… [END OF PREVIEW]

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