Sometimes the importance of issues discussed in modern-day books, film, art and other media goes unnoticed until they become relevant to society.
“The Hate U Give” is an American drama film from 2018 based on the novel by Angie Thomas of the same title. It has received critical acclaim and grossed over $34 million against its $23 million budget, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s currently available on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Google Play.
I first stumbled upon this novel per a friend’s recommendation a few years ago. Right off the bat, I fell in love with the authenticity of the author’s prose and the deep connection that Thomas established with each character. I didn’t think much of it, besides noting how well-written the storyline was.
Then, I watched the film out of curiosity while on an airplane.
From the raw emotions of Amandla Stenberg playing Starr Carter, as she watched her best friend die in front of her, to the haunting sounds of bullets being fired in the dark, each scene was ingrained into my memory. Being fortunate enough to grow up in a more privileged community, I had never witnessed a cop pull over someone based purely on the color of their skin.
I felt like my eyes were opened to this whole new world of racial injustice, pain and desperation that Black people face as their reality.
If you haven’t seen it already, now more than ever, I think both the novel and film are great ways to further conceptualize how deep systemic racism is rooted in America.
“The Hate U Give” follows Starr Carter as she deals with the divide between her predominantly Black neighborhood and the white preppy school she attends. She hides her mannerisms in class to avoid being called “ghetto,” yet doesn’t want to be seen as “too good” for her Black friends. After she witnesses the tragic death of her childhood best friend in a police shooting, she struggles with finding her voice to fight for justice.
Powerful scenes depict how Black children are taught to always be respectful to cops; a common rule being to keep hands on the steering wheel at all times. Besides addressing the prevalence of police brutality among Black communities, it highlights a vicious cycle of fear and poverty.
“When the Khalils get arrested for selling drugs, they either spend most of their life in prison, another billion-dollar industry or they have a hard time getting a real job and probably start selling drugs again. That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life,” Angie Thomas wrote in her novel.
Starr also uses various activism methods to speak out against her friend Khalil’s wrongful death, rallying her district behind her. She inspires everyone to take a stand, and both the novel and the film set an example for protesting while furthering today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
Especially during this time, it’s crucial to promote forms of media that spread awareness on the topic of racism and racial tensions among African Americans. I highly recommend you start with the book and then watch the movie if you’re looking for further education/resources.
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right,” Thomas said, according to GoodReads
This time, let’s end it right.