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Analysis of Freedom Writers Film and the American Education System

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The best illustration of stereotyping in Freedom Writers comes from Andre, one of the kids at Woodrow Wilson High School; “ My brother taught me what the life is for a young black man. Pimp, deal, whatever. Learn what colors to wear. You can sell to one corner, but you can't sell another. Learn to be quiet. The wrong word can get you popped” .  Evidently, it is the stereotyping within the school that leads to the discrimination and violence between the students, as the “ young black man” (LaGravenese, 2007) struggles to follow the rules set for him by society.

The gang violence comes from a need to be accepted into a gang ad to make money by pimping and dealing because those are the only career options which seem available to those at the school. This can be perceived as part of a vicious cycle, with students getting into this lifestyle young because they see no other option, then ending up in jail which finalizes them into this lifestyle (Sanders, 1994). The main narrator, Eva, also fits into a stereotype. She is a feisty, intelligent girl who is not afraid to stand up for herself and her family in the “ war” (LaGravenese, 2007), which is how she describes the violence.

She says herself that “ In America, a girl can be crowned a princess for her beauty and her grace. But an Aztec princess is chosen for her blood. To fight for her people as Papi and his father fought, against those who say we are less than they are, against those who say that we are not equal in beauty or blessings” (LaGravenese, 2007).

Eva obviously feels a lot of sympathy and respect for her Mexican heritage, whilst being proudly American. There have been suggestions in the literature that Mexican Americans are becoming increasingly involved in gang violence (Sanders, 1994), and Eva and her family story in Freedom Writers fit this perfectly. She speaks with a lot of the nuances and accents that are typically stereotyped as being part of the Mexican American subgroup, which makes her portrayal both familiar and slightly one-dimensional.

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