What the hell am I doing in here? I'm the only white person in this English class! I'm sitting in the
corner of this classroom (if that's what you want to call this chaos), looking at my schedule and
thinking, "ls this really where I'm supposed to be?" Okay, I know in high school I'm supposed to
meet all kinds of different people, but this isn't exactly what I had in mind. Just my luck, I'm
stuck in a classroom full of troubled kids who are bused in from bad neighborhoods. I feel really
uncomfortable in here with all these rejects. There aren't even enough seats. My teacher, Ms. Gruwell,
is young and determined, but this class is out of control and I bet she won't last very long.
This school is just asking for trouble when they put all these kids in the same class. It's a disaster
waiting to happen.
I had lunch before class in the high school quad and noticed that, like everywhere else, it was really
separated by race. Each race has its own section and nobody mixes. Everyone, including me, eats lunch
with their own kind, and that's that. There is a section known as "Beverly Hills" or "Disneyland" where
all of the rich white kids hang out. Then there's "China Town" where the Asians hang. The Hispanic s
ection is referred to as either "Tijuana Town" or "Run to the Border." The Black section is known as
"Da Ghetto." Then there's the freak show in the middle of the quad that's reserved for the druggies,
also called "Tweakers," and the kids who are into the Goth scene. From what's going on around me, it's
obvious that the divisions in the quad carry into the classroom.
All my friends are across the hall in the Distinguished Scholars class. It's almost all white. The only
people I'd have to worry about in that class are the really cool and popular people who think that
they're better than everyone else is. Other than that, I'd be safe with my own kind. In here, I already
know it's going to be survival of the fittest. I'm just waiting to get jumped.
As soon as possible, I need to get out of this class and into the class across the hall with my friends.
Right after the bell rings, I'm going to talk to my counselor and make her move me out of here. l'll lie
and insist that there's been a computer error and that I am supposed to be in the Distinguished Scholars
class, even though I suck in English and have a learning disability. I know she'll believe me 'cause
I can't believe all this noise. I just want out of here. I hope the bell rings soon. I don't want to
spend another minute in this room. lf I stay in here, one of two things will happen: I'll get jacked
or I'll die of boredom.
Source: The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruwell, Broadway Books, New York 1999, pp. 8-9
to be bused in - (i.e. 'busing', a measure by which children from 'bad' schools are bused to 'good' schools and the other way round)
high school quad - here: cafeteria
Distinguished Scholar class - Eliteklasse
1. Why is the school 'asking for trouble', if it assigns all students who loathe learning to the same class?
2. Why do you think does the diary writer want to be in the Distinguished Scholar class?
3. From what the writer suggests, how do students behave in class, in the high school quad and in their neighborhoods?
What consequences will such behavior entail?
4. If you were the principal of that school, what would you change first?