There is currently 1.5 to 1.8 million species in the world that have been successfully named and classified. Of this number a vast amount already has, or is in the process of extinction. Loss of habitat, over-exploitation of wildlife for commercial purposes, the introduction of harmful exotic species, environmental pollution, and the spread of diseases pose serious threats to the world’s biological heritage. This is of key concern as the removal of a single species can set off a chain reaction in the ecosystem affecting many others. This is especially true for keystone species, whose loss can transform or undermine the ecological processes or fundamentally change the species composition of the wildlife community.
In Toni Cade Bambara’s 1972 short story “The Lesson,” two young, spirited girls from the blue collar district of New York embark on a field trip into a world as foreign to them as if divided by oceans while only a cab ride away. This journey challenges the girls to look not only at the economical but social diversity in our culture and the ways in which it shapes society.