Examine how individuals in Kozol's Amazing Grace are affected by social problems.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As consistent with Kozol's work, social problems find their way to impact the world of the modern individual.  What makes his work in Amazing Grace so powerful is how he illuminates the force with which individuals in the modern setting cannot escape the impact of social problems. They are not distant realities that are bartered over by Democrats and Republicans. Rather, they are real, with pressing impacts on the lives of individuals.  

Kozol's analysis examines the force of social problems upon the lives of individuals through the words of individual people.  For example, community organizer Lee Stuart speaks to the reality that governs people's lives as a result of social problems that surround the individual:

I did not believe that we would ever come to this. A good society had been defined as one in which the segregation of the races was abhorrent. Even conservatives were saying this by 1968. Today, at least here in New York, this is no longer so. The notion of the ghetto as a 'sin' committed by society is not confronted. You will never see this word in the newspapers. The abolition of this sin is simply not on the agenda. I don't think we should accept this, but I also think the powers that be are stronger now than any counterforce that we can build. 

Stuart speaks about how a police academy "may or may not be built right now" because of political disputes.  In such sentiments, it becomes clear that social problems impact the lives of individuals.  Kozol shows how human beings cannot escape the reality of social problems.  It is for this reason that social problems such as discrimination, economic disempowerment, and a lack of voice have real faces and definable experiences for individuals in the modern setting.  Through being able to illuminate social problems through the prism of human experience, Kozol forces the reader to understand that this predicament is not theoretical as much as it tangible with real and definable features.

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