In a time where horror and superheroes dominate the box office, it is always inspiring to see authentic stories being told on big screens. George Tillman Jr, director of “The Hate U Give,” captures the black experience in America.
Based on the best-selling young adult novel by Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give” film follows Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black student at a predominately white prep school who is forced into becoming an activist when she witnesses her childhood friend Khalil, being shot by a police officer after he mistakes a hairbrush as a weapon.
Starr battles with her identity when moving between two worlds. Starr,was born and raised in Garden Heights, a disenfranchised neighborhood surrounded by violence, drugs, and prostitution. She is unapologetically black and yet, still educated.
However, Starr 2.0 attends a fancy suburban prep school does not give her peers a reason to call her “ghetto”. Star 2.0 speaks eloquently, is deemed remorseful and quiet.
Tired of code switching, Star integrates her two worlds after privilege white students plan a protest for Khalil just to skip out on class.
Soon after Khalil’s death the media depicts him as a thug, drug dealer, and gang affiliate. Starr’s friends at her school become concerned about her isolation and silence. Once one of her friends realizes that Star was the only witness to the tragic event, she pronounced that Khalil got what he deserved.
After Starr testifies about the frightful event, the grand jury’s decision to not indict the police officer who killed Khalil creates uproar on the streets of Garden Heights. Citizens took their frustration to the streets in protest and looting.
“The Hate U Give” is a perfect story for our time; names like Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo, to name a few, may ring a bell. This film not only reveals police brutality, but it also presents racism, the cycle of poverty and crime and excessive force being used on people of color.
According to the US Census estimates, blacks made up 13 percent of the population. However, in 2015 they accounted for 26 percent of those killed by police. In 2016, 24 percent, and in 2017, 23 percent of all those killed by police. In other words, blacks were the victims of the lethal use of force by police at nearly twice their rate in the general population.
“The Hate U Give” title is taken from Tupac Shakur, one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time. Shakur raps about the injustices that African American people face such as police brutality, systematic criminalization and racism. “The Hate U Give” is an abbreviation for THUG LIFE The Hate U Give Little Infants F. Everybody.
“The Hate U Give” can be used to educate someone who is afraid to speak up about injustice because they are afraid of retaliation from the media, friends or even family members. Starr learns that her voice is the only weapon that she has to fight for Khalil.