Saint Ann's Neighborhood, Bronx, New York
I enjoyed reading this piece by Jonathan Kozol very much. After reading this not only am I expressing feelings of concern but also heart ache. I have heard few stories about life within the Bronx, but never stories of this severity. I never realized how horrifying life can be until I read about it. The first quote I would like to discuss is found on page 4, "Crack-cocaine addiction and the intravenous use of heroin, which children I have met here call "the needle drug," are woven into the texture of existence in Mott Haven. Nearly 4,000 heroin injectors, many of whom are HIV-infected, live here. Virtually every child at St. Ann's knows someone, a relative or neighbor, who has died of AIDS, and most children here know many others who are dying now of the disease." I read this and the first thing that concerns me is not only that this neighborhood has 4,000 heroin injectors, but it is that the children are aware of what AIDS is and use the phrase 'the needle drug'. The children within the Saint Ann's neighborhood are all exposed to depression, AIDS, asthma, and of course, fear. They witness murder and death far more than any child I have met. "What is it like for children to grow up here? What do they think the world has done to them? Do they believe that they are being shunned or hidden by society? Ifso, do they think that they deserve this?" (5) I found myself asking the same questions that the author did here. As Kozol described his time spent with a boy named Cliffie, I realized that children of this neighborhood are cultured, but not in a good way. Cliffie does not know who George Washington is, but says his hero is Oprah. He shows the author around his neighborhood and can describe places in detail that children in other neighborhoods never could. This reading also discusses the conditions of the hospitals in the Bronx which was disturbing. "A nurse who works there, according to one press ac count, carries a card in her wallet with the message: "Do Not Take Me to Harlem Hospital in an Emergency."(16) It is scary to think that people cannot receive the treatment necessary to keep them alive. They wait hours, even days to receive medical care in an emergency room. I recently went to the emergency room and waited less than an hour. Patients that sought care in Bronx hospitals had to change their own bedding in their hospital room. I guess no one ever really thinks about how horrible life is outside of our own little world. This reading gave me a reality check and opened my eyes.
Questions/Comments/Point To Share:
In class I hope to discuss the situation of the children within this neighborhood more along with the hospital conditions. I picked these points from the article because they are the most pressing issues in my mind. When you hear about the Bronx, many people automatically associate it with violence and poverty. But after reading this, I have been exposed to deeper and scarier issues. Why is nothing being done about the conditions of the hospitals? How are they still running?