Sunday, January 14, 2007

Freedom Writer

I sat in a movie theater yesterday and watched the movie Freedom Writers and couldn't help but feel certain emotions stir in me. I had long tired of the "great white hope" comes in and changes the ghetto kids genre, but this movie was definitely different. It was done with a dignity to the students that Erin Gruwell served in a way that was befitting of their struggles. I loved that for once asian kids were not isolated from the world of violence many kids live in, the story was more about the kids then the teacher, loved that the main latina character struggled with a lack of moral absolutes.

But I was still mildly bothered by the whole thing. When do the stories about us, for us, by us get told? It's been almost 20 years since Jaime Escalante and Joe Clark took the screen. And it bothers me that our stories, teenage or otherwise, are not just happening in the classroom, but really that is the only place they ever get played. And don't tell me that "Take the Lead" is supposed to cut it. I mean real emotion. Stirs you that you identify, regardless of color with the character, even though the man/woman so happens to be a minority. Anyone in the mood to challenge me could give me a list of movies with characters of color that should shut my mouth, but really, its a mere handful and how many of those movies had a producer that understood what it was like to grow up not as a part of mainstream culture.

See when I started writing this, I was about to apologize, I'm aware that my blogs have been a lot about race lately. Why its been a hot button issue with me as of late I don't know. But I was ready to apologize to this non-existant reader for the effect of not seeing myself on a screen. And then I stopped myself. I won't apologize for a structure that I see consistantly doesn't raise our kids the way they deserve.

I realized that its time for me to start writing faithfully again. And by faithfully, I mean putting my story down on pages. I have no right to complain about what isn't out there if I have yet to add my own contributions.

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