Please join LPE@HLS as we host scholar, advocate, and policymaker Nikhil Goyal. Dr. Goyal will discuss his celebrated new book, Live to See the Day: Coming of Age in American Poverty (Metropolitan Books, 2023), in conversation with Professor Alexandra Natapoff. All are welcome!
About Live to See the Day
An indelible portrait of three children struggling to survive in the poorest neighborhood of the poorest large city in America
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. This is the story of their coming-of-age, which is 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.
In a triumph of empathy and 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.
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. He has appeared on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, and written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time, The Nation, and other publications. Goyal earned his B.A. at Goddard College and M.Phil and Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He lives in Vermont.
Alexandra Natapoff is the Lee S. Kreindler Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. An award-winning legal scholar and criminal justice expert, she writes about criminal courts, public defense, plea bargaining, wrongful convictions, and race and inequality in the criminal system. Her books include Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal (Basic Books, 2018) and Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice (NYU Press, 2009). Professor Natapoff has testified before Congress and numerous state legislative bodies; she has helped draft state and federal legislation; her work appears frequently in judicial opinions as well as the national media. Prior to joining the academy, she served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Baltimore, Maryland.