This student, who hates writing, is excited by Ms. Gruwell’s homework, in which each student has to draw their neighborhood. However, s/he explains that s/he hates his own neighborhood, which is full of drug dealers, gang members, racial tension, and constant violence. S/he feels that s/he cannot hope for anything in life, because every opportunity seems so out of reach. Instead of engaging in violent activities, s/he chooses to tag walls. Even when s/he is at school, s/he writes and paints on walls, since neither the teachers nor her/his parents ever seem to truly want to help her/him or motivate her/him to succeed. Tagging, unlike school, gives this student an opportunity for self-expression, as s/he feels pride in what s/he has created.
While still engaging in an illegal activity, this student decides to express her/his frustration in non-violent ways. Violence affects her/him in the same way it affects gang members and victims, as it robs her/him of all hope, making her/him believe that life is an eternal cycle of violence and war. The student’s isolation is emphasized by a lack of adult support and role models. Nevertheless, her/his yearning to be heard and seen is evident in her/his tagging, demonstrating a desire for people to pay more attention to her/his artistic self.