With dry humor, this student complains about always being called on to represent the black perspective in her classes at school. She decries the absurdity of this situation, since she feels that the only person she can accurately speak for is herself—not for an entire set of people she doesn’t even know. She finds it irritating that her teachers seem so intent on pointing out the fact that she is the only black person in her honors classes, which she already notices enough herself.
This student separates herself from the racial group to which her teachers so insistently try to bind her, characterizing her teachers’ behavior as ignorance and discrimination. She denounces the harm and senselessness of considering all members of one social group identical in their beliefs and emotions.
One day, she asked her teacher why the books they read so strikingly lacked racial diversity. The teacher said that all black literature contained vulgar and sexual moments that were inappropriate in the classroom. When the student tells her mom what happened, her mom is outraged and goes to the principal, bringing with her a list of beautiful books written about and authored by black people.
This teacher’s blindness to the diversity of works within black literature reveals her ignorance and prejudice. The student’s mother demonstrates her commitment to her daughter’s education, as well as her desire to make her feel proud of her cultural heritage.
Unable to stand the idea of being with this teacher any longer, the student decides to change classes and, following a friend’s advice, join Ms. Gruwell’s group. She is pleased to discover that Ms. Gruwell does not judge her based on her race, but merely listens to her as an individual, allowing her to speak her mind.
This student’s satisfaction at changing classes demonstrates that successful education involves not only reading complex works, but also being treated with respect and fairness. This student finds strength in being able to express her individuality.