Everyone Needs to Watch The Hate U Give

With movies like A Star is Born, Halloween and Venom all coming out in October alongside The Hate U Give, the film has had some tough competition this past month. While The Hate U Give is an underrated film that deals with incredibly heavy content, it received a score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and it is a movie that everyone needs to watch.   

Based on The New York Times best-selling young-adult novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows the story of Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) who is constantly switching between two worlds—the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white private school that she attends. The uneasy straddling between these two worlds and the two different versions of herself she displays to each world is completely destroyed when she witnesses the murder of her innocent childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from both worlds, Starr learns to find her voice and stand up for justice.      

The Hate U Give is an emotional rollercoaster—you cry, you laugh, you cry some more. You get angry, you cheer and you feel inspired when Starr finally finds her voice and stands up for what she believes is right. I wish everyone went to see this film because while wizards, vampires and dystopias make for popular young-adult books and movies, I am so happy that a film like The Hate U Give is finally getting its moment to shine. As many popular young-adult books and films have white protagonists, it is nice to see the coming-of-age story of a young black teenage girl for once which is set in modern day society with the complexity of Black Lives Matter, white privilege, gang wars, and the drug trade and which essentially highlights what it is like to grow up as a black person in the United States right now.

The Hate U Give is an amazing movie for so many reasons. I love how this film discusses complex issues that people in the black community often experience including Starr’s dad giving Starr and her brothers the “talk” about how to act around police officers, a talk that unfortunately many African-American families are forced to have with their children. I also like how The Hate U Give is ends on an inspiring note when Starr finally speaks up and joins the fight against the systemic injustice that her friend, Khalil, experienced at the hands of the police. I love the fact that while Starr is searching for her voice and her own identity, we, as the audience, are exposed to many other identities including the perspectives of her father, her mother and her uncle, all of which show that no two experiences as a black person are the same.  

As Starr has this double life where she cannot act too “black” around her white prep school friends and she cannot act too “white” around her black friends in her neighborhood, it is incredibly interesting to watch the ignorant behavior of Starr’s white friends and white boyfriend after the brutal death of Khalil at the hands of the police. An example of this is when her white friends only want to go to a protest for Khalil just to cut class, not because they actually care. Another example is when Starr Chris (KJ Apa), Starr’s boyfriend, are talking and he says to Starr, “I don’t see color,” a problematic and unfortunately popular line that many white people say that may initially sound good, but in reality simply negates and dismisses racism entirely. Starr replies to her boyfriend’s comment by saying, “If you don’t see color, you don’t see me,” an excellent response as it is important to acknowledge and celebrate people’s differences, but also to stand up and fight when those people’s differences are being attacked or threatened. Overall, I think this is an empowering, insightful and hopeful film that looks at what it is like to be black in America.

Okay, now I need to acknowledge something. I myself am a privileged white girl, like many other students who go to Western, and therefore, I have never experienced racism, oppression or police brutality. But The Hate U Give is an incredible film that provided me with the opportunity to empathize with Starr and the experiences she faces on a daily basis, things that I have never even come close to facing. Whether it is Starr having to live a double life where she has to show a certain version of herself at her wealthy prep school so she is not stereotyped as an aggressive “thug” or someone from the “ghetto,” or having to live in fear of her family and friends being arrested or killed by police officers at any moment, The Hate U Give is a powerful film that has made me question everything about how I perceive race. While The Hate U Give may be a difficult film to watch, I personally believe that everyone needs to watch it because not only does it feature a strong and brave young African-American female protagonist, something that unfortunately does not happen enough in media, but it also opens our eyes to the racial injustice and police brutality that occurs in our society.  

 

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