The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is an intuitive and breathtaking novel.
Published in 2017, Thomas’ novel covers the story line of a young black girl, Starr, who learns about and grows into her identity as a black woman. We as readers follow Starr’s journey in her fight for justice in regard to police brutality against people who are black. Throughout the novel, we gain an understanding of the emotional toll code-switching, police brutality, microaggressions, and more take on Starr.
In the Young Adult novel, Angie Thomas masterfully discusses topics such as:
- Police brutality
- Racial microaggressions
- Interracial relationships
- Correlations between class and race
- Gang activity
- Drug addiction
- The strategically flawed American justice system
- And more…these are the general discussion topics I noticed with my first read. If there are any I missed and you felt were important, please comment below.
As a white woman who is 22, The Hate U Give taught me a lot about the black experience. (Friendly reminder: It is not the job of BIPOC, specifically black people to educate white people. White people should be using valuable resources like The Hate U Give to educate themselves and simultaneously support Black authors, artists, speakers, etc.)
Below are two of the above topics I believe Thomas covered very well especially for a young adult audience:
How Thomas discusses Police Brutality and Racial profiling
Sixteen year old Starr Carter is the main character of The Hate U Give. As young teens, many of us had to endure the horribly embarrassing “sex talk”, but not all of us also had to hear the “what to do if stopped by a cop” talk.
In the beginning of the book, Starr is witness and involved in an event of police brutality. Thomas tears at the reader’s emotions. Before the horrifying scene plays out, Starr narrates the “what to do if stopped by a cop” talk with her parents. This advice occasionally replays through Starr’s thoughts as the scene with police brutality happens. Thomas’ seamless incorporation of the conversation between Starr and her parents into the horrific scene accentuates the fact that police brutality is a multifaceted problem and is not concentrated to just the scene Starr witnessed.
Let’s be honest microaggressions are a HUGE problem in the American society, especially with teenagers. The classic, “Chill, it’s just a joke” resonates with me when I think about microaggressions. In The Hate U Give, Starr attends a private school; a majority of the student population is white and wealthy. Starr’s two best friends Hailey and Maya are both wealthy; however Hailey is white and Maya is Chinese. Throughout the novel, we see Starr and Hailey’s relationship become tense and change over time as Starr becomes more aware and Hailey becomes more stubborn and ignorant.
Starr repeatedly tries to confront Hailey about her microaggressions but Hailey consistently refuses to learn. In the first incident, her response to Starr’s confrontation was “Lighten up! It was only game talk”. Later when Starr calls her out for sympathizing with a cop who committed police brutality, rather than learning and growing, she plays the victim and turns things around in an attempt to make Starr the bad person.
Microaggressions happen all the time with people of all ages, but Thomas playing out these scenes can help younger generations be better people. Because this is a young adult book, with conversations between teenagers and set in present time, I believe it will be memorable in young minds. While reading these conversations, I have a feeling almost all of us will recognize the dialogue as some we have personally experienced in varying capacities. Hopefully, seeing the conversations on paper will show readers the impact and depth their words have, that not everything is “just a joke”, and how to grow as a human when told you are wrong.
Why you should give it a read
Overall, I strongly feel The Hate U Give is an amazing educational tool and should be taught in schools. Angie Thomas’ writing is also very entertaining and easily draws the reader in….I binged it in one day 🙂 it was just too good to put down.
Friendly reminder: If you have a friend, boyfriend, colleague, or acquaintance who is black, it is not their job to educate you on the black experience if you are not black. There are black individuals who are creating tools like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas that anyone can access to learn about the black experience. Educate yourself. Read books, watch movies, observe art, listen to podcasts and music, attend panels, and more all while uplifting black writers, artists, and intellectuals.
Keep amplifying melanated voices.
Love to all,
Black Lives Matter