The “Other America”

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When one is taught about World War II, the genocide of six million Jewish people and other minority groups is usually first to come up. We have all heard dreadful stories about the Holocaust, which came about though the mind of Adolph Hitler. The “final solution” was the German dictator’s plot to rid the world of human life that did not quite meet his outrageous expectations. This might lead one to inquire as to the untold story of the Polish troops and their struggles in their portion of the world. How come we almost never hear about what they went through for the safety of their county? Even though they didn’t win, they put up a fight- like a knife in the dark that you don’t know about. Just like the Polish general had to clash with the Nazis, Pharaoh and Lafayette were forced to encounter dangerous gangs, only on a much different level. The “Other America” is like the stories that are never told, those whose fears are never recognized until it is too late.
Alex Kotlowitz alludes to brushing off violence and its consequences quite often. Almost always it seems our protagonists are off on the railroad tracks or buying fast food so that they can avoid thinking about their father or their neighborhood. Paul survived through a drug overdose because of LaJoe, who pulled the syringe out of his arm and called an ambulance. This incident didn’t change Paul’s actions, and he soon survived another overdose. This particular neighborhood does not help. It is definitely not one that you might see advertised on t. v. or read about in the newspaper. Henry Horner is a place located in the deep South of Chicago, where violence was portrayed as a harsh reality that even the smallest child was bound to face. Pharaoh was never a child for he was never permitted a normal lifestyle. Often he dealt with inescapable shootings correlated with the Vice Lords, a gang that resided in Henry Horner. Even if Jimmie Lee would be some how killed, the violence won’t cease. If anything it would intensify.
In Pharaoh’s America, he had to dodge bullets from gangsters whom he knew or might have even encountered on the streets. Lafayette never helped either, for although he defended Pharaoh, the younger brother always appeared to want to break free of Lafayette’s pressures and demands. Absorbed in school work, it never appeared that he would be drawn into their world and he never was. He realized that to kill innocence people and then act like everything was fine is just ridiculous. The society of the “Other America” is shaken by poverty, poverty on a significant level. LaJoe thankfully had food stamps and other ways of supporting the family, but compared to myself and other parts of the U. S. of A. they were in desperate conditions.
Lafie, as his mother called him, was found guilty of committing a crime, and although never drawn into the black hearts of the gangsters, he came close to following in his older brother’s footsteps, steps which were much like the boy himself- certain but watchful. Lafeyette had in fact, packed his bags and waited to be sentenced to prison for a long time. Although he didn’t go to jail, one may never be certain of what curve balls the streets of Henry Horner may throw mercilessly at the two boys. One thing is for sure, Lafayette and Pharaoh will never take things for granted in the “Other America.”

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