Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quotes from Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace

Quotes from Jonathan Kozol

This weeks reading focused on writer Jonathan Kozol’s  visit to a poverty stricken neighborhood called Mott Haven. The neighborhood is filled with violence, drugs, and various other issues. Kozol creates a clear image of life for the people of Mott Haven, showing their daily of living in poverty.
While reading Amazing Grace, I found that there were a few quotes that really stood out to me for different reasons. The first quote that caught my eye was when Kozol is speaking to Cliffie’s mother and she asks him if Cliffie had taken him to Jackson Avenue. When Kozol replies yes, Cliffie’s mother somewhat nonchalantly says “’You see a lot of prostitutes down there as well…’”(11). For me, the way Cliffie’s mother is so used to Cliffie walking down these streets filled with prostitues and drug users was shocking.
St. Ann's Church in Mott Haven
Growing up, my mother was very strict about which streets I traveled along, I was always told to avoid any streets that she deemed unsafe. Having grown up in a fairly decent neighborhood, I’m sure whatever was on the streets my mother told me to stay off of where no where near as bad as some of the things found in Mott Haven. It was sad to see how used to seeing her son on these dangerous streets Cliffie’s mother was. Those are conditions that a child should not have to be exposed to at such a young age.

            The other quote that really stood out to me was a series of lines also from Cliffie’s mother. When Kozol asks about the incinerator that Cliffie pointed out on their walk she says "’The point is that they put a lot of things into our neighborhood that no one wants…the waste incinerator is just one more lovely way of showing their affection…the truth is, you get used to the offense. There's trashy things all over.’”(10). This quote stood out to me because it’s crazy to think that this woman feels that the city that she calls her home is basically being used as a giant dumping ground for the rest of the cities. It’s horrible for the struggling citizens of Mott Haven to think that the surrounding towns have no interest in helping them better themselves but instead would rather just see the town in its current state and decide that there is no way to improve it so it might as well be used as dumping grounds. It was really sad to see how somewhat defeated and accepting Cliffie’s mother was about Mott Haven. Overall, I enjoyed the reading this week. It was very eye-opening.
If you were wondering what Mott Haven's been like recently take a look at their local paper's website and seeing all their latest news: Mott Haven Herald


  1. I agree with your point that it isn't safe for young children to be walking around these streets especially for the dangers that are there. My parents were also strict when I was younger- they wouldn't even let me play in my front yard because we lived on a main street. It's a completely different scenario for children living in those areas because they are accustomed to what goes on. Like you said it's definitely not safe for them but I think they just know how to handle it.

  2. I definitely agree that it's sad and scary that it's normal for these children to be growing up in such dangerous surroundings, but to them that's normal, and like Emily said, since they grew up there, in that culture, they know the codes of conduct for how to react and survive.
    I really love your link to the paper.

  3. As a parent, I would never let my child walk the streets of a place like Mott Haven! I even get a bit paranoid when I left my son play in the backyard by himself. It's crazy to imagine that children must live their entire lives becoming use to and complacent about their nightmarish environments.

    And awesome link to the newspaper! I'm glad some of the community members got together to get a greenhouse built! Having healthy food, and food choices is often a problem for low-income families. I hope the greenhouse is an asset to the community!

  4. I think you used two great parts of the article for your quotes. I thought about using the second one as well. It stuck out to me as well as how much disrespect these people and their neighborhood gets. I really liked this reading too and I thought it was very eye-opening as well.