Embracing Your Voice– The Hate U Give
'We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people,' this is the seventh point of the Black Panther’s 'Ten-Point Program.' It is, unfortunately, applicable to the past and present social climate of the United States.
This point in the program is dedicated to the plea to stop unjustified violence toward, and murder of, black people. All ten points cover basic human rights, such as receiving equal education standards or decent housing. Thus they can be applied to America’s current social/political climate; in an age where the talk does relate to sex, but the parents’ instruction of how to behave during police roadside checks.
In The Hate U Give, the protagonist, Starr Carter, has a first-hand experience of police brutality. Starr grew up with a father who is a supporter of the Black Panther ‘Ten-Point Program’ and, as a result, she is familiar with how to behave during a police officer stop. Despite this, after being pulled over by a police officer, she witnesses her (unarmed) friend Khalil being shot. The officer mistook Khalil’s hairbrush for a gun.
Khalil’s death, unsurprisingly, sparks backlash and Starr is not only traumatised by what happened, but is stuck between speaking against the police officer’s false statement and protecting her family’s safety.
Hostilities continue to escalate when newspapers start to depict Khalil as a drug dealer; a job he reluctantly undertook to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment.
But The Hate U Give does not only illustrate the unbelievable discrimination and devaluation of black lives in the United States, it also stands as a hymn for self-embrace. Through traumatic loss and experience, Starr faces the conflict of finding her true self and voice. Early on she informs the audience about her two split personalities: one, ‘Starr Version 2,’ the ‘calm’ and friendly, ‘non-threatening black girl around her white friends’ who is enrolled in a largely white private school, the second personality lives in the predominantly black neighbourhood of Garden Heights. Khalil’s death marks a turning point for Starr, putting her two personalities in conflict with one another. Together with Starr’s boyfriend Chris, who ~ supposedly ~ doesn’t ‘see colour,’ Starr comes to the realisation that ‘if you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me’ and thus finally finds her voice.
The Hate U Give is based on Angie Thomas’ novel of the same name, and is centred around the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant. Thomas’ novel elaborates not only on social injustice, but the struggle of finding one’s voice in a conflicted world: it is an excellent example of a Young Adult novel maturely dealing with serious social issues.
Not only did the novel top the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list and remained there for 50 weeks, but the movie adaptation also has an outstanding cast. Director George Tillman Jr. and screenwriter Audrey Wells ensure the important social messages in the text remain pertinent throughout. In addition, Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) who is one of the most politically active and aware celebrities in young Hollywood today, is a perfect fit for the role of Starr Carter; her performance ensuring the novel’s message resonates with multiple generations.
The Hate U Give premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It is scheduled to be released on October 5, 2018 (United States) and on October 19, 2018 (nationwide). Click here to watch the trailer.
[Photo Credits: MTV International, CC BY 3.0.]