“I don’t know what can change this” is the final thought of Jonathan Kozol in Amazing Grace. How does this comment reflect the complexity of the social and medical problems in Mott Haven,...
“I don’t know what can change this” is the final thought of Jonathan Kozol in Amazing Grace. How does this comment reflect the complexity of the social and medical problems in Mott Haven, making a “little list of ‘answers’ and ‘solutions’” impossible?
What Jonathan Kozol shows in Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation is that the causes of the social and medical problems he describes are social and income inequality in the nation as a whole, leading to both local and national political systems than tend to benefit the better off and more educated who can vote and exert pressure on the political system to their own benefit. He argues that even with goodwill, there are now no easy fixes to the problems of poverty which have evolved over decades.
For example, one could argue that the way out of poverty would be to provide jobs programs in the neighborhood. Businesses, however, are reluctant to locate in areas with high crime and poor infrastructure and weak schools and impoverished families are unlikely to help young people build work skills for an increasingly technological society. Even small retail outlets struggle because of lack of customers with money and high crime rates.
Health problems are similarly complex. Poor areas are more likely to have people with poor diet, drug abuse issues, and concentrations of infectious diseases. Although one could invest more in making medical care available, that would not solve issues such as environmental pollution, poor diet, unavailability and unaffordability of wholesome food, and substance abuse, nor create a culture of compliance with things like vaccination schedules and condom use for prevention of STDs.
Other problems such as improving schools, improving infrastructure, and reducing crime also need to be tackled in tandem as the causes of all the problems Kozol observes are interrelated. Unfortunately, he despairs of there being a political will to make the necessary commitments.