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Freedom Writers Diary - Entry 1: Ms.Gruwell

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SeeReal Kim

on 16 December 2010

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Transcript of Freedom Writers Diary - Entry 1: Ms.Gruwell

Tomorrow morning,
My journey as an English teacher
officially begins. Since first impressions are so important,
I wonder what my students will
think about me. Will they think
I'm out of touch
or too preppy? Or worse yet,
that I'm too young
to be taken seriously? Maybe I'll have them
write a journal entry
describing what their expectations
are of me and the class. Even though I spent last year
as a student teacher
at Wilson High School,
I'm still learning my way
around the city. Long Beach is so different than
the gated community
I grew up in. Thanks to MTV
dubbing Long Beach
as the "gangsta-rap capital"
with its depiction of guns and graffiti, my friends have
a warped perception of the city,
or L B C as the rappers
refer to it. They think I should wear
a bulletproof vest
rather than pearls. Where I live in Newport Beach
is a utopia compared to
some of neighborhoods
seen in a Snoop Doggy Dogg Video. Still, TV tends to
blow things out of proportion. The school is actually located
in a safe neighborhood,
just a few miles from the ocean. Its location and reputation
make it desirable. So much so that
a lot of the students that
live in what they call the "'hood"
take two or three buses
just to get to school every day. Students come in from
every corner of the city: Rich kids from the shore
sit next to
poor kids from the projects. . . there's every race,
and culture
within the confines of the quad. But since the Rodney King riots,
racial tension has spilled over
into school. Due to busing and
an outbreak in gang activity,
Wilson's traditions
white, upper-class demographics
have changed radically. African Americans,
and Asians
now make up the majority
of the student body. As a student teacher last year,
I was pretty naïve. I wanted to see
past color and culture,
but I was immediately confronted by it
when the first bell rang
and a student named Sharaud
sauntered in bouncing a basketball. He was junior,
a disciplinary transfer
from Wilson's crosstown rival,
and his reputation preceded him. Word was that
he had threatened
his previous English teacher
with a gun (Which I later found out
was only a plastic water gun,
but it had all the makings of
a dramatic showdown) In those first few minutes,
he made it brutally clear that
he hated Wilson,
he hated English,
and he hated me. His sole purpose was to make
his "preppy" student teacher
crying. Sharaud became
the butt of a bad joke. A classmate got tired of Sharaud's antics
and draw a racial caricature of him
with huge, exaggerated lips. As the drawing
made its way around the class,
the other students laughed
hysterically. When Sharaud saw it,
he looked as if
he is going to cry. For the first time,
his tough façade
began to crack. When I got a hold
of the picture,
I went ballistic. "This is the type of propaganda that
the Nazis used during the Holocaust," I yelled. When a student timidly asked me,
"What's the Holocaust?" I was shocked. I asked,
"How many of you
have heard of the Holocause?" Not a single person
raised his hand. Then I asked,
"How many of you
have been shot at?" Nearly every hand
went up. Freedom writers diary
freshman year
fall 1994
entry 1 : Ms. Gruwell to be continued . . .
Full transcript