What “Freedom Writers“ Taught Me – A Movie Review by Eman Khalid

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“It would be easy to become a victim of our circumstances and continue feeling sad, scared or angry; or instead, we could choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies, and not let ourselves sink into it.”
― Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary

Everybody deserves a second chance at life. People aren’t always what they seem to be. Just because you’ve had a traumatic past, does not mean you don’t deserve to have a bright future. And the movie ‘Freedom Writers’ is proof that sometimes people with the worst pasts create the best futures. 

Based on the true story of Erin Gruwell and her 1994 freshmen class, “Freedom Writers” is a story about a teacher who changes the lives of her pupils and leads them to a path of righteousness and piety. 

Erin Gruwell was a dedicated English teacher in a Los Angeles racially divided school where she was assigned to teach a class of at-risk teenagers who were deemed incapable of learning. Some of her students were forced by the Government to attend school while others were on the brink of dropping out. Some students witnessed their parents being unjustly killed by police brutality, while others despised their lives of poverty.

Throughout the movie, we learn the story of each and every character. We understand the reason behind their anger and hatred. We understand their pasts and analyze the way they were brought up in underprivileged households. Freedom Writers is a movie that is promised to pull unto your heartstrings, teaching you the difference between right and wrong, making you believe that if there is cruelty in this world, there is also happiness, and there is also love, you just need to have a little faith and keep your hopes strong.

Just when her students are on the brink of giving up, Erin Gruwell lights a spark of intrigue in them to plan their futures and take an interest in education. Encouraging them to keep journals, Gruwell assigns each of her students a reading material that they can use to relate to their lives. By gaining their trust and respect, she uses her unique teaching style to understand them better and teach them about the importance of education. The students wrote every day in their journals and later, their entries were compiled in a single book titled, ‘Freedom Writers.’ 

“No matter what race we are, what ethnic background, sexual orientation, or what views we may have, we are all human. Unfortunately, not all humans see it that way.”

― Erin Gruwell, The Freedom Writers Diary 

Certain songs and movies make a special place in the crevices of our hearts, and no matter how many years go by, a part of our soul is attached to that one specific song or movie. For me, a movie that touched a deep part of my heart was “Freedom Writers.” Being a Muslim woman of colour working in the field of publishing, journalism, and media, there were instances when I was discriminated against by my peers and coworkers.

Employers did not want to work with me, and recruiters did not see me fit for the role despite my vast work experience and outstanding credentials. Why? It was because of my religion, my nationality, the language I spoke, and where I came from. It was “Freedom Writers” that inspired me to embrace my true identity. Watching that movie made me realize that as human beings, we might be victims of our circumstances. But that does not mean we deserve to suffer eternally. Even in the gloomiest of days, and in the darkest of nights, there is still hope, even the impossible can be achieved through possessing a strong faith.

Freedom Writers taught me that it did not matter where I came from, or what my past circumstances had been, if I had the willpower to better myself, to change myself, to change my situation, and to make my life better, I could do so with the right hard work, commitment, and dedication.

If there was one thing, Freedom Writers had taught me, it was, that the world can be a cruel place. However, if we have, even a single person in our life, who is trying their best to understand us, and teach us the way to lead a life in a good way, we must listen to them

All of “Freedom Writers” have graduated from high school and college. Some of them even went to pursue their graduate degrees.

The story of Freedom Writers is not fictional. It is not a story of a few individuals living in the ghetto. It is the story of almost every young person of color who suffers from some sort of racism or discrimination in their own communities. It is the story of young boys and girls, like you and me.

If society spent more time nurturing the ethics and the morals of youth, instead of spending their time fighting for lands and properties, how safe and secure would our streets be! Youngsters, they need our attention. They need our guidance. They need our support. And if we give them the necessary tips, and show them a good path to lead their lives in a perfect way, we’d raise more emotionally stable individuals, rather than adults who are driven by despise and hatred.

Eman Khalid

Eman Khalid is a writer, editor, storyteller, and a journalist. She has been a co-author of more than twenty poetry books. She is a contributing writer to the Women's Republic, the Meraki Magazine, Litlight Magazine, Prosart Literary, Kitaab, StoryHouse UK, and The Latest. Eman is an English Language and Literature major born and raised in the Middle East (Kuwait). She has a deep passion for reading about inspirational women from the past. When she is not writing, you will find her reading books, listening to songs and taking long walks at the beach.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Amer Aljarrah

    So neat and compelleing piece of content.

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