This student quotes a line from one of poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou’s works: “I know why the caged bird sings.” He explains that he, like this bird, “sings” because he is not free, writing poems and journal entries to escape reality. In his violent, gang-filled neighborhood, he is a minority because he is white, and has always had to run home from school to avoid being beaten up for looking different. For that same reason, he hasn’t been able to make any friends.
This student has experienced the injustice of being attacked because of his skin color, and feels deeply isolated because of this. While he considers art a means of escaping his violent world, it is clear from the simple fact that he is writing this diary entry that it also allows him to share his emotions and express his deepest thoughts, thus allowing him to connect with himself—not only to escape.
There are no such tensions in his classroom and his class has been celebrated for their diversity, appearing on television and even receiving financial help from an airline company. He explains that he hopes to become a pilot to escape his suffocating environment. Ironically, though, he is afraid of heights and didn’t attend the Freedom Writers’ past field trips. He hopes to attend their next trip to Texas in the fall.
The Freedom Writers’ classroom provides much-needed respite from the violence and intolerance of the world. This student’s desire to be a pilot despite a fear of heights is comical, but also shows that he optimistically believes no obstacle is strong enough to keep him from pursuing his dream.