This book, as well as Backlash, formulated who I am to this day. Kozol's earlier book, Death at an Early Age, was very influential as well. March 22, 1994
Saturday night, I saw my friend Wendy, who was home from college for spring break. We were talking about Dawn Clark Netsch's plan to fund education through redistributed wealth. We both thought that it was a great idea whose time should have come long ago. At any rate, Wendy told me about a book she read called Savage Inequalities by Jonathon Kozol. It is about the obvious inequalities between poor students in inner city schools and their suburban counterparts.
New Trier is one of those schools. We are unflinchingly compared to several Chicago schools, one in North Lawndale, DuSable High School, etc. Wendy told me that after reading the book, she was ashamed to be associated with this area. I couldn't agree more. When I realize all of the things that we have that we take for granted, I feel sick. It's not just that we have all of this stuff, it's that we refuse to share it. Resident after resident, official after official, student after student, declared these poor students to be unworthy and undeserving of the same funding we are entitled to. The Chicago students are made to feel like shit by people like them. I don't want to be associated with people who hold these intolerant attitudes. Unfortunately, I am.
A friend of mine recently voiced these same views of hatred. She even attached racial tones to it. She said that "those" people need to work for their living, and it's their own fault they live off welfare and in poverty. The problems with her statement are manifold: 1. it is completely ignorant, made without considering any of the facts, but only stereotypes 2. it is commonly believed by a large majority of New Trier.
I am deeply distressed and depressed by the conditions these less fortunate students are forced to "live" under. I cannot possibly imagine living like that. No one should. I think this book will have the same kind of profound effect on me that Backlash did. It will motivate me to fight for change. My moral outrage and sense of decency implores me to.
I hope everyone will eventually read this book. It is not pleasant, but we need to overcome our stereotypical notions of poverty and related issues. We must confront this serious problem; time is running out.