The Hate U Give, a film adapted by a novel of the same name, follows Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a black girl living in two different worlds—the poor mostly black neighborhood of Garden Heights and Williamson Prep, the rich, predominantly white high school she attends. After witnessing the unjust death of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer, Starr must decide if she wants to risk having her two separate worlds collide and fight for justice. While The Hate U Give is not the first film to touch on the very real issues of modern black America, but it was the first film in a very long time that made me sob in the theater. Here are four reasons why I cried (though there were definitely more).
Warning: Spoilers ahead
1. When Starr’s father gives her “The Talk” for the first time.
The quietness at the table was deafening as Starr’s dad, Maverick, showed Starr and her brother what to do with their hands, what to say and how to stay alive in this situation. It really drove it home that Starr never let that information go. Even when she was in the passenger seat, the rules were scared into her. I couldn’t help but shed a few tears while remembering my own “talk” with my parents about what to do if a police officer pulled me over. This kind of fear never leaves you.
2. Khalil Telling Starr That They Had Time… 5 Minutes Before He Dies.
While Khalil (Algee Smith) was driving Starr home from the party, he kissed her—even though she had a boyfriend. When Starr explained that to him, he told her that they have a whole lifetime to be together. And if you’ve seen the trailer, you know that he’s the one that gets shot by the police officer, cutting his life short. This not only made my eyes sweat profusely, but also made me realize that life is not promised to anyone. It could be taken so quickly and without warning.
3. Uncle Carlos Basically Admitting That He Too Was Apart of The Problem
Although the topic of black people dying at the hands of white police officers was a common theme throughout the film, Uncle Carlos (Common) was a very needed exception. Carlos is Starr’s uncle, who happens to be a cop. While sitting in the kitchen, Starr asks him if he would shoot a “white man in a suit with a Mercedes” if he reached back into his car after being asked to stand still. Carlos admitted that he would tell a white man to put his hands up again instead of shooting him, further proving that because Khalil was black, police are more inclined to shoot, even if the police officer is also black. The scene begged the question—is this issue not only about race but power as well?
4. When Starr Shined Her Light
During the movie, Starr went through something most young black people go through: choosing between sticking up for what you believe in or staying safe. A common concern throughout the movie (mainly from her mother) was Starr’s safety after being the sole witness of Khalil’s death. But she realized that in order to be true to herself and her people, she needed to speak her truth. Her self-doubt resonated with me and I couldn’t help but sob (VERY loudly, I should add).