Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace

About 5 or so years ago, Jonathan Kozol came to speak at RIC.  I was honored to be asked to participate in a small group session with him and some students from ALLIED, the mentoring group I run every Wednesday. I was so excited to meet him that I became ridiculous in my anticipation.  Every day I would remind my classes that he was coming and every day that would laugh at my giddiness and glee.

On the day he spoke, I collected all of my Kozol books from my office...  Amazing Grace, Savage Inequalities, Shame of the Nation, Letters to a New Teacher, Death at an Early Age.  Probably others.  A colleague of mine saw me heading to the talk with a heavy bag in tow.

"What are you doing with all those books?" she asked.

"I just really want him to sign them!" I exclaimed.  I wanted him to know that I was his Number One Fan and somehow I had decided that the armload of books would be evidence to my loyalities.

"Maybe you should just bring one," she said.  "You know.  Just one to sign."

"Oh no!" I declared. "I really want to bring them all!"

Being told explicitly the rules and codes of power makes acquiring power easier.  Delpit was shaking her head somewhere out there in the universe.

The talk was great.  I took notes and smiled and nodded emphatically.  I brought all of the books. After the talk, Kozol signed them all.  Begrudgingly.  Apparently it is bad form to ask an author to sign ALL of your books.  As if one special autographed copy is cheapened by sitting next to many others on one person's bookshelf.  Instead of impressing Kozol, I kinda irritated him.  Ooops.  Another place where Delpit and Kozol have collided for me!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. So far Kozol's article was my favorite reading we've done in class! That's so cool that you got to hear him speak, he dedicated his work to those children and must have a lot of stories based on what he learned from them! If he were to come to RIC again I would consider going to hear him speak!