Kensington, Philadelphia, is distinguished only by its poverty. It is home to Ryan, Giancarlos, and Emmanuel, three Puerto Rican children who live among the most marginalized families in the United States. They come of age in an area beset by violence—the violence of homelessness, hunger, incarceration, stray bullets, sexual and physical assault, the hypermasculine logic of the streets, and the drug trade. In Kensington, eighteenth birthdays are not rites of passage but statistical miracles.
One mistake drives Ryan out of middle school and into the juvenile justice pipeline. For Emmanuel, his queerness means his mother's rejection and sleeping in shelters. School closures and budget cuts inspire Giancarlos to lead walkouts, which get him kicked out of the system. Although all three are high school dropouts, they are on a quest to defy their fate and their neighborhood and get high school diplomas.
Drawing on nearly a decade of reporting, sociologist and policymaker Nikhil Goyal follows Ryan, Giancarlos, and Emmanuel on their mission, plunging deep into their lives as they strive to resist their designated place in the social hierarchy. In the process, Live to See the Day confronts a new age of American poverty, after the end of "welfare as we know it," after "zero tolerance" in schools criminalized a generation of students, after the odds of making it out are ever slighter.
352 pages. Hardcover.
About the Author
Nikhil Goyal is a sociologist and policymaker who served as senior policy advisor on education and children for Chairman Senator Bernie Sanders on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Committee on the Budget. He developed education, child care, and child tax credit federal legislation as well as a tuition-free college program for incarcerated people and correctional workers in Vermont. Goyal earned his B.A. at Goddard College and M.Phil and Ph.D at the University of Cambridge. He lives in Vermont.