This student is excited to be in New York, and she finds the Marriott Hotel where they are staying, thanks to Ms. Gruwell’s status as a staff member, particularly luxurious. She explains that, unlike in Washington, she was not able to choose her roommates. Instead, Ms. Gruwell placed her in a group with three girls of three different races: African American, Caucasian, and Asian. This student has never shared a room with people of a different race, because her father always forbid her to sleepover at the homes of her friends, who were ethnically diverse. She realized her father was prejudiced when he told her sister that if she married her African-American boyfriend, he would not give his blessing.
Despite the fact that this is senior year and the Freedom Writers have worked hard on issues of cultural and racial diversity, this student has not yet had the experience of confronting racial difference in her personal life. Her family experience demonstrates that, even though she can criticize her father for being racially prejudiced, she still experiences discomfort with other races because of his intolerant views, which have kept her from getting accustomed to racial difference.
After feeling uncomfortable changing in front of her roommates on the first day, she soon bonds with them over a shared experience, and they end up sharing various items they brought with them. This experience makes her feel confident that she will never feel uncomfortable with a person of a different race again, and that she will raise her children so that they can choose who they want to be friends with.
This experience shows that close contact with other people can prove more powerful than any classroom activity, as it forces people to reckon with their deepest fears and emotions. In this case, it impacts this student so much that she is convinced it has radically changed her entire vision of racial difference.