The film I willbe discussing is called ‘Freedom Writers’ written and directed by RichardLaGravenese. Freedom Writers is based on true events and focuses on a young,white and newly-qualified teacher called Erin Gruwell. Erin is faced with studentsfrom ethnic minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds described asbeing ‘at-risk’. The film begins with a disruptive start however as the filmprogresses we witness various moments on how the students are slowly adaptingto Erin and eventually have been ‘saved’/ rescuedfrom the stereotypes they were labelled with. Basedon the entire film my essay will advance the ideathat / my essay will bring forward how LaGravenese has purposefullypresented Erin’s character as a ‘white saviour’ which is deceptive as it mayseem like a good thing but I don’t think this is the case.
To explore myargument firstly the terms white saviour and white ally will be defined andanalysed then I will discuss which term Erin is most associated with. This willbe followed by the four scenes I have chosen which depict how Erin has beenportrayed as a white saviour and will also be supported by various articles andliterature. The essay concludes that Erin’s character is a white saviour.
Thesimplest definition of white saviour “refers to a white person who acts to helpnon-white people” (Wikipedia). However, it is important to establish some otherterms that are very closely linked with the general meaning of white saviour asI will be referring to these throughout my essay. For example, the ‘whitesaviour syndrome’ is when a white person guides people of colour from themargins to the mainstream with his or her own initiative and kindness. Whitesaviours also have the tendency to help people of colour since they are seeminglyincapable of helping themselves, people of colour have little to no capacity towant change hence any progress, success, escape of poverty or ignoranceachieved comes from the aid of the white individual’s intelligence (Cammarota,2011). Additionally, Teju Cole a Nigerian-American novelist had coined the term’white saviour industrial complex (WSIC)’ which he describes as “the WhiteSavior Industrial Complex is not about justice.
It is about having a bigemotional experience that validates privilege.” Surely this was the case forErin? It was evident that Erin’s experience as a White teacher was very emotionalnot only for her but to us as the audience too. Especially towards the end of the film when she seemsoverwhelmed by the change her students embark on which realistically is becauseof her concealed guidance (by statingconcealed I believe the film attempts to hide Erin’s white privilege and insteaddisplays her guidance as being benevolent.) Ultimately as Cole states it comesdown to the validation of her privilege and white saviourism as the dominantend result.