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Understanding That Ignorance Isn't Bliss...

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Understanding That Ignorance Isn't Bliss... In order to change the world, one must first change their mind about the world for it is impossible to change that which is not understood. Understanding is not natural instinct--it is a chosen activity. Things worth understanding in life must be worked at. In the book There Are No Children Here, by Alex Kotlowitz, the author dares to venture into the misunderstood lives of the tenants of the Henry Horner Homes. The opening chapter contains the following passage which, first introduces the theme of misunderstanding and ignorance and the menace it poses to those living in the projects: "The youngster had heard that the suburban bound commuters from behind the tinted train windows, would shoot at them for trespassing on the tracks. Some of the commuters had heard similar rumors about the neighborhood children and worried that, like the cardboard lions in a carnival shooting gallery, they might be the target of talented snipers. ...read more.


To the ignorant Marianos, Craig was "just another nigger." (Kotlowitz (197). If Marianos had tried to understand the situation, a senseless killing could have been prevented. Another example of misunderstanding is found in the welfare worker. For the duration of the meeting with LaJoe, the woman "continued to rattle off proof" (Kotlowitz (96). If Edith Rogers had been more concerned with understanding LaJoe's problems instead of demonstrating her knowledge, the Riverses might have remained on welfare. They were eligible because welfare was later reinstated. The lack of understanding of officers posed a threat to both Craig and the Rivers' family--; demonstrating how dangerous ignorance can be to those in the projects. There are people who will seek first to understand in the book. Surprisingly enough, some of them also don a police uniform. LaJoe comments on one of these policemen, Bill Spencer. ...read more.


There is a story contained within the book about a child named Alonzo. He was shot due to gang warfare. Nine-year old Alonzo's story was unremarkable in that it was a part of daily life in HHH. What made the incident memorable was the fact that two days before the tragic incident, an eight year old boy had also had been shot in Winnetka. And Wwhile life went on at HHH, life stopped in Winnetka. The local paper ran headlines, a crisis team was brought in for the children, the Governor called for increased school security, and at HHH everyone had all but forgotten Alonzo's story. Ignorance and misunderstanding can be dangerous. If people choose, alternatively, to understand the projects and life within them, they can help. Maybe some day when people begin to make an effort to understand, stories like Alonzo's will make the six o'clock news and be called an aberration rather than acknowledged as routine. ...read more.

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