I was reading this essay by Jonathan Kozol the other day for my English course and at some point during my reading it kind of hit me. The essay is called “The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society”, it is worth reading. I never really had taken the time to think about the struggles illiterate people go through up until I read this essay. Below I provide you with an extract, more specifically, the part that moved me the most. Enjoy.
“I stood at the bottom of the ramp. My car had broke down on the freeway. There was a phone. I asked for the police. They was nice. They said to tell them where I was. I looked up at the signs. There was one that I had seen before. I read it to them: ONE WAY STREET. They thought it was a joke. I told them I couldn’t read. There was other signs above the ramp. They told me to try. I looked around for somebody to help. All the cars was going by real fast. I couldn’t make them understand that I was lost. The cop was nice. He told me: ‘Try once more.’ I did my best. I couldn’t read. I only knew the sign above my head. The cop was trying to be nice. He knew that I was trapped, ‘I can’t send out a car to you if you can’t tell me where you are.’ I felt afraid. I nearly cried. I’m forty-eight years old. I only said: ‘I’m on a one-way street…’ “
For the curious little minds, I read this essay from THE SEAGULL READER: ESSAYS, Second edition.