Jonathan Kozol’s Amazing Grace is a book about the trials and tribulations of everyday life for a
group of children who live in the poorest congressional district of the United States, the South Bronx.
Their lives may seem extraordinary to us, but to them, they are just as normal as everyone else. What is
normal? For the children of the South Bronx, living with the pollution, the sickness, the drugs, and the
violence is the only way of life many of them have ever known.
In this book, the children speak openly and honestly about feeling ‘abandoned’, ‘hidden’ or
‘forgotten’ by our nation, one that is blind to their problems. Studying the people themselves would
only get us so far in understanding what their community is really like and why they feel this way.
Jonathan Kozol really got to know the people individually. We can take his knowledge and stories to try
for a better understanding of the environment in which they live. By doing this, we can explore the many
reasons why the people have problems, what some levels of intervention could be, and possibly find some
solutions to making the South Bronx a healthier and safer place for these children and others to live.

Problem Identification
The environment in which we study these people can only be defined by first taking a look at
possible reasons why the people have problems. Some of the problems discussed in Amazing Grace have
festered throughout the United States for some time now. The high numbers of drug users in the
community, the high amounts of gang-related violence, and the numerous cases of people who have
contracted the AIDS virus are just some of the problems that have arisen in this ghetto. There are many
differences between this community and others in the United States, one of which is that the government
has grouped these people all together and made a ghetto of the lowest income families. This has
ostracized them from the rest of the nation. It has given them many abandonment issues to deal with,
while also telling them they are not worthy of living among the wealthier population.
Environmental factors are involved in the problems arising in the South Bronx. Pollution, for
example, could be the biggest source of the high number of children in the community who have asthma.
Asthma is a condition in which one has trouble breathing. Without clean air, breathing for an asthmatic
is almost impossible. A waste burner in the middle of the South Bronx causes a lot of pollution and
makes the air the people breath, below safe levels of cleanliness. Another environmental factor that
affects the resident’s healths has to do with how most of the buildings in these neighborhoods are run
down and infested with rats. Many of the buildings have no working elevators. This causes people to
have to walk several flights of stairs each time they want to leave their apartments. This is very time
consuming and tiresome. Then, when they find that there is so much violence and drugs in the street,
that it is not safe to be out there anyway, they usually end up staying !
in their apartments for most of their free time.
The cultural differences between these people and others of higher income communities is also a
reason why they may have problems. Racism is very obvious to the people of the South Bronx, especially
when they go outside of their district. If a woman from this area goes to a hospital outside of her
district, a hospital that is more than likely wealthier and cleaner, she is usually turned away and told
to go to a hospital in her own district. Others, who are admitted into these hospitals, are put on a
special floor, mainly for the lower income or Medicaid patients. (Amazing Grace, p. 176)
Another way the government discriminates against them is how they are housed. Most of the
residents are living in government housing where the government pays their rent. When the government
helped the people to get off the streets and out of homeless shelters and then put them into low cost
housing, they put all of the residents in the same area. This created their ghetto and kept them
segregated from the rest of the world.

Level of Intervention
If we look at these people through an exosystem, or “a setting in which a person does not
participate but in which significant decisions are made affecting the person