The Hate U Give

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

The Hate U Give is an inspiring young adult novel written by Angie Thomas. According to research this is a debut novel expanded from a short story wrote in college in reaction to the police shooting Oscar Grant. Just for readers better understanding, Oscar Grant was a 22 year old African American man who was killed in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009 by BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California. The police were responding to reports of a fight that had occurred on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco. Oscar Grant was in fact racially profiled along with other black men when the police were trying to figure out who the suspects were. Grant was unarmed and forced to lie face down on the platform. While being held down, Officer Mehserle drew his pistol and shot Grant in the back. In the movie, Fruitvale Station, it was stated that the officer thought that he drew his taser instead. Following this incident, it resulted in much publicity and called for justice against police brutality.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The book is narrated by 16-year-old Starr Carter who lives in a poor neighborhoods and attends an elite private school in a predominantly white, wealthy part of the city. After witnessing her black childhood friend murdered by a white police officer, she becomes involved in a national news story. The film version of this story showed that she was nervous about speaking up and preferred that her identity by preserved. She spoke up about the shooting in many public ways, and social tensions resulted in a riot after the the grand jury decides not to indict the police officer for the shooting. These said riots served a purpose to end police brutality against black people. Then comes the often used phrases: “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter”.

In writing this novel, Angie Thomas intended to expand readers’ understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the difficulties that black people who employ code switching face. Code switching occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation. This is exemplified in Starr’s character when she is at home and when she is at school. The neighborhood that she lives in can be identified as the “hood” or even the “ghetto”. This is where she speaks with more slang and expresses a lot of comfortability around her neighborhood friends and family. However, a lot of violence occurs in her neighborhood. The most depicted in the film were shoot-outs and riots which resulted in them having to hide out in their addict for the night. A lot of these incidents hit close to home in which she also lost a friend when she was a child. Her friend was a young girl who was shot in front of her house when they were all playing outside.

To continue, when Starr is at school, she exhibits more class and etiquette. She is one of very few black students that attend this school and they all expect her to act out of character. In other words, they are stereotyping her as the ‘angry black girl(woman) and expect her to snap at any given moment. Though she is in a different environment than what she grew up in, she appeared to be very comfortable at school too and had some white friends that she played basketball with. She even had a white boyfriend, whom she had to hide from father because she knew he would not be too happy about it. At times she appeared to be more comfortable at school than at home or rather she felt more safe. She was kind of ashamed of the neighborhood that she lives in. Her and her friends parents prevented her friends from visiting her home because of the type of neighborhood that she lives in.

Though I have referenced both the novel and the film of The Hate U Give, they differ in many specific details. One of the prime examples is how her family members and friends are depicted. The film however does bring everything to life and has more of an impact on the viewers.

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Brandi Daniels

Brandi Daniels

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