Sunday, September 22, 2013
A Compassionate Response to Amazing Grace
As an average white American it is hard to face the idea that by being white it puts me at an advantage over other citizens. However, despite what I might like to protest, it is true. While reading Jonathan Kozol's Amazing Grace the reality of what he was describing about the citizens in the South Bronx and the lives that they lead every day, hit me extremely hard. I am not by any means ignorant to the reality that people have it much worse than I do, but the impact did not go unnoticed. The life that Kozol described made me think about everything I had and realize the great opportunities that I have set before me. Basic amenities that I take for granted every day, other citizens struggle to hold onto. This is where we found Alice Washington who is suffering from AIDS, all the while trying to support her teenage son as he goes through high school and prepares for college.
What Kozol described was not some desperate junkie living off the government, just like stereotypes have Americans believing, but a strong independent woman doing everything she can to give her child what he needs, all the while having crippling medical problems. However despite all of what she goes through she reveals to Kozol what is going on around her and the suffering that others are facing. In spite of what she faces every day she still had the compassion to understand that she is not the only one suffering. This compassion is not something you can find in an average white citizen because it seems as though we feel that if it is not seen, it doesn’t exist. This concept can be tied into Peggy McIntosh’s article where she states, “I was taught to see racism in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” If we as white Americans choose not to see what is right in front of us, there is no hope of getting our citizens out of the desperation they face every day.