As Ms. Gruwell’s class compares Zlata Filipović’s experience of war in Bosnia with Anne Frank’s life during the Holocaust, this student realizes that, like Zlata, s/he too saw her city under siege during the Los Angeles Riots. After the policemen accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted, people reacted violently in protest, destroying property, setting off bombs, and shooting each other based on the color of their skin. Like Zlata, this student lost her innocence when she was forced to hide from such intense hatred and violence. Even though the National Guard ultimately put an end to the riot—like the UN’s intervention in Bosnia—the ethnic hatred is still palpable, and the intolerance has not gone away.
This student realizes that extreme, race-related violence can be motivated by hatred (as in the case of the Holocaust and the Bosnian war) and anger (as in the case of the 1992 Rodney King riots). This student’s comparison of her/his situation with important historical events shows a growing awareness that s/he, too, is a historical actor, whose story should be taken seriously and whose dignity should be preserved.