Erin Gruwell Quotes in Freedom Writers (2007)
Erin Gruwell Quotes:
Erin Gruwell: The evaluation assignment was to grade yourself on the work you're doing. You gave yourself an F. What's that about?
Andre: It's what I feel I deserve, that's all.
Erin Gruwell: Oh really?
Erin Gruwell: You know what this is? This is a Fuck You to me and everyone in this class. I don't want excuses. I know what you're up against. We're all of us up against something. So you better make up your mind, because until you have the balls to look me straight in the eye and tell me this is all you deserve, I am not letting you fail. Even if that means coming to your house every night until you finish the work. I see who you are. Do you understand me? I can see you. And you are not failing.
Erin Gruwell: Maybe we should talk about art. Tito's got real talent, don't you think? You know something? I saw a picture just like this once, in a museum. Only it wasn't a black man, it was a jewish man. And instead of the big lips he had a really big nose, like a rat's nose. But he wasn't just one particular jewish man. This was a drawing of all jews. And these drawings were put in the newspapers by the most famous gang in history. You think you know all about gangs? You're amateurs. This gang will put you all to shame. And they started out poor and angry and everybody looked down on them. Until one man decided to give them some pride, an identity... and somebody to blame. You take over neighborhoods? That's nothing compared to them. They took over countries. You want to know how? They just wiped out everybody else. Yeah, they wiped out everybody they didn't like and everybody they blamed for their life being hard. And one of the ways they did it was by doing this: see, they print pictures like this in the newspapers, jewish people with big, long noses... blacks with big, fat lips. They'd also published scientific evidence that proved that jews and blacks were the lowest form of human species. Jews and blacks were more like animals. And because they were just like animals it didn't matter if they lived or died. In fact, life would be a whole lot better if they were all dead. That's how a holocaust happens. And that's what you all think of each other.
Marcus: That Miep Gies lady, the one that help hide her, I like her. I got all these other books about her from the library.
Erin Gruwell: Wow, you used your library card?
[while playing the Line Game, in which Erin makes the class reveal that they have more in common than they care to admit]
Erin Gruwell: Who has been to jail or a juvenile hall?
Sindy: Does a refugee camp count?
Erin Gruwell: You decide.
[Sindy stands on the line]
[following Erin's impassioned speech about the Nazi Holocaust]
Tito: [raises hand] What's a holocaust?
Erin Gruwell: Who here knows what the Holocaust is?
[all keep their hands down except Ben, the only white kid, who sheepishly raises his]
Erin Gruwell: Who here has ever been shot at?
[all raise their hands except Ben, who lowers his]
Eva: White people wanting respect like they deserve it for free.
Erin Gruwell: I'm a teacher, it doesn't matter what color I am.
Eva: It's all about color, it's about people deciding what you deserve, about people wanting what they don't deserve. About whites thinking they own this world no matter what, you see, I hate white people.
Erin Gruwell: You hate me? You don't even know me.
Eva: I know what you can do. I saw white cops shoot my friend in the back for reaching into his pocket, his pocket! I saw white cops come into my house and take my father away for no REASON except they feel like it! Except because they can! And they can, because they're white. So I HATE white people on sight!
Marcus: No, that don't fly Ma.
Erin Gruwell: First of all I'm not anybody's mother.
Andre: No, that's not what it means.
Eva: It's a sign of respect... for you.
Erin Gruwell: But to get respect you have to give it.
Erin Gruwell: What?
Andre: Why should I give you my respect to you? Because you're a teacher? I don't know you. How do I know you're not a liar standing up there. How do I know you're not a bad person standing up there? I'm not just gonna give you my respect because you're called a teacher.
Eva: White people wanting their respect like its for free.
Erin Gruwell: Does anyone know Homer's the Odyssey?
Andre: I know Homer the Simpson.
Marcus: Lady, stop acting like you tryin' to understand our situation, and just do your little babysitting up there.
Erin Gruwell: That's what you think this is?
Marcus: It ain't nothing else. When I look out in the world I don't see nobody that looks like me with their pockets full unless they're rapping a lyrics or dribbling a ball, so what else you got in here for me?
Erin Gruwell: And what if you can't rap a lyric or dribble a ball?
Andre: It ain't this.
Marcus: I know that's right.
Erin Gruwell: And you all think you're gonna make it to graduation like this?
Andre: I made it to HIGH school ain't nobody stop me.
Marcus: Lady I'm lucky if I make it to 18, we in a war! We graduating every day we live because we ain't afraid to die, protecting our own. At least when you die for your own, you die with respect, you die a warrior.
Erin Gruwell: So when you're dead, you'll get respect, that what you think?
[murmurs of 'yeah' from the class]
Erin Gruwell: You know what's gonna happen when you die? You're gonna rot in the ground, and people are going to go on living, and they're going to forget all about you. And when you ROT, do you think it's gonna matter whether you were an original gangsta? You're dead, and nobody, NOBODY, is gonna want to remember you, because all you left in the world is this.
[holds up Tito's drawing]
Erin Gruwell: Your bags are packed and you think the wine will give me a headache?
Erin Gruwell: I love you.
Steve Gruwell: You love the idea of me.
Erin Gruwell: An F? What,are ya trippin'?
Erin Gruwell: All right, guys and gals, listen up!
Browse more character quotes from Freedom Writers (2007)