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The Freedom Writers Diary

by Erin Gruwell
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Why are the students so unwilling to associate with anyone outside their ethnic/racial groups? Where does this intolerance come from?

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The simple answer to this question is that they don't know any better. Just think what kind of backgrounds these students come from, what kind of lives they've been leading. For the most part, they've spent the whole of their short lives in neighborhoods where just about everyone comes from...

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The simple answer to this question is that they don't know any better. Just think what kind of backgrounds these students come from, what kind of lives they've been leading. For the most part, they've spent the whole of their short lives in neighborhoods where just about everyone comes from the same ethnic group. Growing up in such an environment inculcates a certain mindset which encourages racial solidarity as a social solvent that keeps people together in the face of hostility from the outside world. This mindset is so deeply ingrained that it becomes hard for the kids to break free from it. That's why Erin has her work cut out if she's going to teach her students the overriding importance of freedom. By blindly sticking to their own kind, the kids are not truly free; they're the prisoners of their own environments and the exclusive mentality they've created and sustained.

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Interesting question! In the book The Freedom Writers many of the students are unwilling to associate with other students from different ethnic or racial backgrounds.

Throughout the book, students comment about their unwillingness to associate with others from different backgrounds. Although many of the students find this behavior in others (such as during their reading of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) to be wrong or illogical, they find the segregation to be normal with themselves.

In the book, several of the students express that blending the different backgrounds into one classroom seems problematic. Many of the students segregate during lunch. This appears normal to many of the students. As one student reveals:

“This school is just asking for trouble when they put all of these kids in the same class. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Although there are numerous different explanations about this intolerance, there are some particularly noteworthy causes. As some students illustrate, the segregation has existed for years; thus, change seems unlikely. Furthermore, many of the students do not believe they can cause a change of such magnitude. Others appear scared of upsetting their parents. Lastly, violence instills this separation as well.

Consequently, segregation is commonly seen in this book. Throughout the story, students begin to question the intolerance. However, several factors encourage their unwillingness to associate, such as violence and fear.

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