In FREEDOM WRITERS movie, the role of Erin Gruwell, the teacher who happened to be white, is very strong to make her students coming from various ethnic groups—the Black, the Asians (especially the South East Asians), and the Latino—realize that not all white people discriminate the colored.
Eva Benita, one daughter of a Latino family, is raised by her father to see the white as the oppressor. The bitter experience undergone by her father strengthened Eva’s hostility toward the white. He is imprisoned for one thing he never does: he is accused to kill one of his neighbors. The lifestyle she chooses—to involve in a Latino gang, as one ‘heritage’ from her father—obviously shapes her point of view to see relationship among ethnic groups: you only make friends with people from the same origins. People from other ethnic groups are enemies. Eva, with her gang members, believes that their life will be a lot better without those ‘enemies’. Therefore, their life is always full of hostility and hatred, as well as ‘war’.
Fortunately, Eva, with her classmates, gets a white teacher who proves to them that she is not like any other white people (another example of a white teacher who is discriminative toward the colored in the movie is Brian Gilbert, an English teacher who teaches the junior and senior students). Erin, raised by a father who is absolutely not discriminative either, tries her best to show to her students that discriminative treatment toward other ethnic groups is something intolerable.
Erin successfully opens her students’ eyes about the beautiful life without hostility and hatred toward other ethnic groups. Eva shows that she can win her common sense by telling the truth in the court while ignoring her father’s teaching, “you are not against your own people, your own blood”. She chooses to listen to her heart although the impact of it is that her Latino gang, especially her father, hates her. She is even considered betrayer.
If I relate it to my previous post, we always need people like Erin and Eva to create a more peaceful and friendly life among ethnic groups in Indonesia. Elizabeth Widjaja, in my opinion, is one example like Eva: although her ethnic group is discriminated, it doesn’t mean that she has to do the same thing, especially to the indigenous, as a revenge. Besides, we also need help from the indigenous to show that Indonesia will progress more and more when all people, from all different ethnic groups, work hand in hand to develop the country where we live.
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