Freedom Writers Summary

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Based on actual diary accounts of several teenagers following the L.A. riots, “Freedom Writers” is the story of an idealistic teacher’s attempts to make a difference in the lives of her at-risk students. Located in gang-ravaged Long Beach, California, Woodrow Wilson High is a hotbed of violence due to a voluntary integration program which brings Black, Latino, Asian, and White students together. Rather than having the desired effect of creating healthy diversity, this program breeds constant war between all parties involved, the result being daily gun shots, constant racial slurs, and gang violence. Despite being up against unthinkable violence, devoted first-time teacher Erin Gruwell never gives up and slowly bonds with her class of at-first unreachable pupils. In addition, she breaks down their tough exteriors and searches for the real people beneath by requiring the students keep daily journals. After sharing their stories with one another, the students see their common experiences for the first time and open up to the idea that there are possibilities in life outside of making it to the age of eighteen. Discrimination is a concept that can be associated with “Freedom Writers.” Discrimination is treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit. Discriminatory acts usually result in an unfavorable action against an individual, and some acts are more subtle than others (Thio, 2007, pp. 234). For instance, discrimination is evident at Woodrow Wilson High when violent acts—such as shootings, insults, and gang fights—occur between Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Whites. However, when Erin Gruwell has the groups keep journals and share experiences with one another, the discriminatory acts become less common.


Thio, Alex. 2007. Society Myths and Realities; An Introduction to Sociology. Boston, MA:
Allyn and Bacon.
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