I know I’m a little late to the party, but I finally got around to reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Generally, I don’t find myself picking up Young Adult books that often but I had to see what this one was about. It was everything I expected it would be and more.
The Hate U Give is a very intimate look into the racial divide that our country faces everyday. More often than we should, we see the media showing innocent or unarmed black teens and adults being shot and killed by policemen. It is frustrating and infuriating to watch the news coverage. We all know how the stories play out because we’ve seen them happen too often through our TV screens, but what we don’t see is the aftermath behind the scenes. We don’t see how these killings impact the community, family or friends. We don’t see how young children have to be witnesses to violent acts of injustice or how they are expected to carry on with their lives when they are terrified of being shot in their own neighborhood. The Hate U Give portrayed a very real picture of what it’s like living in an environment that is fueled by violence, gang affiliations, and drugs.
Starr, a 16 year old girl living in a predominantly black neighborhood, witnessed her best friend’s murder by a white policeman. Khalil was unarmed and cooperative with the police officer when he was shot and killed in front of Starr. Khalil was the second friend Starr witnessed being shot to death; Natasha was shot and killed in a drive by shooting related to gang activity when they were just 9 years old. Just stop to think – can you imagine by the age of 16 you have witnessed your two best friends shot to death?! How is a teenager and young adult expected to thrive in this type of environment when violence and gang activity is all they are subject to?
The Hate U Give details a very touchy and sensitive subject that is cause for an unfortunate divide in our society. For whatever reason in 2018, there is still a divide between black and white. I don’t want to delve too much into my opinions on this subject because this blog’s purpose is to discuss books, but what I have to say is this: every.life.matters. Can we say it again for the people in the back?!? Race and ethnicity do not define a person’s character nor does it make one better than the other. I think it is absolutely sickening that innocent people (regardless of color) are being shot and killed for no reason. I think there’s a greater issue at hand regarding the police force, but again this is not the place for that.
Ironically, while I was reading this book I was also watching the recently released Netflix original documentary, “The Rachel Divide” that follows Rachel Dolezal, a controversial woman born to white parents but identifies as black. It raised interesting questions of what race, identity, and racial oppression mean. There were many issues addressed in the documentary by black women that I understood from reading The Hate U Give: feelings of oppression and how a white woman couldn’t possibly understand what it means to grow up as a black woman.
I truly enjoyed the writing in this book; I loved that the author was not “picking sides” or pointing fingers but rather writing from an activist viewpoint. In order for change to occur, something must be done. Sometimes, standing up for what is right or what you believe in is intimidating and scary but we must use our voices, as they are the most powerful weapon we have. Regardless of race, ALL people need to use their voices to make a different.
The Hate U Give was raw and justifiably unfiltered. I will never know what it is like to live in a neighborhood where I fear gun violence or gang activity, but after reading this book I have a better understanding of what that life looks like for people like Starr. I loved Starr’s family and how supportive and encouraging they were. I loved their sense of community and regardless of the amount of gang activity and shootings, they still were determined to make their neighborhood a better and safer place. We need more people like the Carters in this world; people are so quick to give up when things go downhill in their community but they demanded a change.
White, black, or purple, The Hate U Give is a must-read for people of all races, age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. The message is SO important to our society; it’s so much easier to live in a world of love and support rather than hate and injustice. To be moved by a raw and unfiltered look into the injustices that many communities face daily might just be what we all need.